Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) Fellow Gerardine Mukeshimana understands the role science and technology can play in enhancing the quality of life for people. With the common bean representing 57% of the food legumes consumed worldwide and with her home country of Rwanda having the highest bean consumption in the world, it was only natural that Dr. Mukeshimana focused her research on the common bean. Her PhD thesis centered specifically on developing drought tolerance and disease resistance in beans with the aim of providing science-based solutions to achieving agriculture-led growth. A main source of nutrients and income to poor farmers, Dr. Mukeshimana sees developing drought tolerant bean varieties as an important strategy for food security in Rwanda.
Her Borlaug LEAP fellowship enabled Dr. Mukeshimana to work with renowned plant physiologists and bean breeders at Michigan State University and CIAT. Her fellowship provided access to the latest tools in molecular biology and bioinformatics to not only identify key components of bean genetic trait inheritance, but also to develop a fast and cost effective method for screening these components. This test can now be used by other scientists. Dr. Gerardine Mukeshimana was recognized for her significant contributions to breeding of the common bean as the recipient of the 2012 BIFAD Award for Scientific Excellence in a USAID CRSP. She recently joined the research team as a post-doctoral scientist at BecA Hub, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa facilities located at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.