Dr. Charity Mutegi received her PhD in Food Science from the Food Security Program at University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa in 2010. She was selected for the Borlaug LEAP fellowship in the summer of 2006 and she completed her fellowship in 2007/2008 during which time she traveled to Pennsylvania State University to work with Dr. Henry Ngugi in the Department of Plant Pathology. She was also mentored by Dr. Richard Jones at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Mutegi’s research focused on the extent of aflatoxin contamination of peanuts from households in western Kenya and causative factors of contamination. After completing her PhD, Dr. Mutegi returned to her native Kenya and began working for Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). In June 2011, she took a leave of absence from KARI to work on a project spearheaded by IITA. As a part of this project, she serves as the Kenya Country Coordinator for the Aflatoxin Biocontrol Project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The innovative project utilizes biological tools to fight aflatoxin in maize and other strategic staples.
Dr. Mutegi was honored in 2013 with the Borlaug Field Award for Scientific Biological Breakthroughs Combating Deadly Grain Mold at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. As a part of her work, she spearheaded efforts to identify the cause of, and solution to, a deadly outbreak of aflatoxicosis in 2004-05, which killed 125 people in eastern Kenya who consumed contaminated grain. Her research led to innovative solutions to that will be used to help prevent future outbreaks and safeguard the region’s staple crop of maize. Dr. Mutegi continues to work at IITA as a research scientist.