Gully erosion is a major problem in the Ethiopian highlands and loss of soil is a key element in the degradation of Ethiopian farmlands. Borlaug LEAP Alumni Dr. Assefa Zegeye saw his research on gully formation and the erosion process as critical to food security and to the livelihoods of small holder farmers. His research focused on restoration options for stabilizing gully bank erosion caused by subsurface and surface water flow. Any gully rehabilitation plan must deal with the two basic causes of gully formation, seepage and lack of maintenance of installed structures. The goal of Dr. Zegeye’s study was to reduce land loss due to gully formation by developing appropriate rehabilitation technologies that are socially acceptable.
Dr. Assefa Zegeye’s thinking on leadership has been greatly influenced by the writings of Harwell Thrasher, an Information Technology Executive who spent over 35 years leading IT organizations. Like Thrasher, Dr. Zegeye believes leaders must not only develop a clear vision, but they must also share and communicate that vision to inspire and motivate followers.
Dr. Zegeye was director and researcher at the Adet Agricultural Research Center in the Amhara Region Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI) in Ethiopia before he took a study leave to pursue his PhD at Cornell University. Dr. Zegeye first met his US mentor, Dr. Tammo Steenhuis, Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering, through Cornell University’s Master of Professional Studies program at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia. Dr. Steenhuis served as chairman on Dr. Zegeye’s PhD committee, in addition to being his mentor and advisor. His CGIAR mentor was Dr. Wondimu Bayu, a researcher at ICARDA-Ethiopia. Both mentors supervised his field work and experiments. Dr. Zegeye completed his PhD in Crop and Soil Science in early 2015.