Graduate School alumna receives humanitarian award

April 08, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Graduate School alumna Amelia Henry has received the Graduate School Alumni Society Humanitarian Award. This award recognizes an alumnus/alumna holding a graduate degree from Penn State who has made a positive societal impact on the welfare of humankind beyond the responsibilities of one’s profession.

Henry is a senior scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. She has been described as “a highly creative and dynamic scientist working at the forefront of global food security to develop rice varieties with greater drought tolerance.”

In a letter of support for Henry’s nomination, Robert Zeigler, the director general emeritus of the International Rice Research Institute, wrote that Henry “has made significant contributions towards our understanding and application of drought tolerance in rice to create rice varieties tolerant of drought.”

After receiving a doctoral degree in plant biology from Penn State in 2008, Henry joined the Institute as a Postdoctoral Fellow. She was appointed as a scientist in 2011 and has advanced quickly through the Institute’s research levels to achieve what may be described as the equivalent stature of associate professor at a very demanding university.

Henry’s publications reflect field experiments conducted in the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Philippines, and Tanzania.

Jonathan Lynch served as Henry’s adviser at Penn State and continues to collaborate with her on international research efforts to identify root traits for improving drought tolerance in rice. 

In his letter of support, Lynch praised Henry as a “selfless and supportive mentor for young scientists and research colleagues in developing countries”; “a role model for young women considering careers in a research domain that has traditionally been dominated by men”; and “an exceptional person, leader and scientist having significant impact on the greatest humanitarian crisis facing our species — global food security.”

Henry also holds a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Cornell University and a master’s degree in plant science from Utah State University.

For her accomplishments, Henry was recognized during the annual Graduate School Alumni Recognition Ceremony.

Last Updated April 08, 2021