Azalu Alebachew Gessess joins Borlaug LEAP as a Fall 2015 Fellow and is pursuing her PhD in Integrative Water Management at Bahir Dar University. Her research focuses on the degradation of farmland in the Birr watershed due to the formation of hardpan that impedes water absorption into the soil and results in significant erosion. Ms. Alebachew will be doing field surveys to determine the variations in the hardpan depth in the study areas and experiments to see whether mechanical means, chemical soil amendments, or a combination of both are better suited to break up the compacted soil.
Ms. Alebachew developed an interest in sustainable environmental resource management as an extension of her work in land resource management. She received both a BS and an MS in Land Resource management and Environmental Protection and then went on to use her expertise to work with farmers and community members to help them manage their resources. She has also worked as a lecturer and researcher at various Universities in Ethiopia over the years, training others to work in the same field. She has used her position in leadership to not only supervise and train, but to inspire others to think critically and come together to obtain common goals. She is especially proud of being a woman a typically male-dominated scientific arena and she hopes to inspire other women to reach for their goals as well.
During her fellowship, Ms. Alebachew will work with her US mentor, Dr. Tammo Steenhuis from Cornell University. In addition, Ms. Alebachew will work with Dr. Petra Schmitter, a head researcher at IWMI and an authority in international sustainable agricultural water management. Ms. Alebachew expects to finish her degree in October 2016.