Dessalegn Chanie Dagnew was awarded a Borlaug LEAP Fellowship in Fall 2015 and is pursuing his PhD in Integrated Water Management at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia. He is passionate about improving the lives of his fellow countrymen, especially those in rural areas, and he hopes that his work in the Ethiopian highlands will help contribute to this improvement. Dessalegn will be working with adapting an integrated decision support system tool called the Agricultural Policy/Environmental Extender (APEX) model to the Ethiopian highlands. This model helps to better simulate the effect of alternative land management practices on runoff, sediment and nutrient loads, and crop yield. Dessalegn hopes to use his research to advise decision- and policy-makers on the impacts of alternative conservation practices, tillage operations, cropping systems as well as better nutrient management practices for the depleted soil.
Dessalegn has two Bachelor’s degrees (Economics and History/Geography) and a Master’s in Integrated Watershed Management. During his fellowship he collaborated with Dr. Tammo Steenhuis, who will serve as his US mentor at Cornell University. Dr. Steenhuis has been working and teaching in Ethiopia for many years and is a very respected faculty member at both Bahir Dar and Cornell. Dessalegn also worked with Dr. Wolde Mekuria at IWMI in Addis Ababa. Dr. Mekuria has expertise in land resource management, and is working on a number of different topics, including the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural land, watershed management, and crop water productivity. Dr. Mekuria worked with Dessalegn to help him publish his data and with the final write-up for his dissertation. Dessalegn is expected to complete his PhD by the end of 2016.