Borlaug LEAP Alumni Gabriel Ddamulira wants to help young people connect with agriculture. As a Research Officer at the National Crops Resource Research Institute (NaCCRI) in Uganda, Ddamulira worked with farmers, extension personnel and university students. He has seen first hand the need to attract the next generation to agriculture and solving issues of food security. After completing his PhD, he hoped to share his knowledge and help young scientists develop.
Ddamulira grew up in a poor, rural farming community in Masaka district, Uganda. During his undergraduate and graduate degree studies, he developed a keen interest in crop improvement through disease and pest control. His PhD research is focused on one of the most devastating diseases affecting the common bean, the Angular Leaf Spot (ALS). The disease can cause yield loss of 50 to 80% and has a profound impact on small holder farmers. Ddamulira’s research is focused on addressing genetic control through resistant varieties. His study will result in improved bean lines with multiple ALS resistance genes as well as a broad resistance spectrum to other fungal diseases. Such improved bean lines could be used across the region and would have a significant impact on household food security.
For his fellowship, Gabriel Ddamulira worked closely with mentors at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the University of California, Davis. Ddamulira conducted his experiments in the laboratories of CIAT-Uganda under the supervision of Dr. Clare Mukankusi Mugisha. Since the research activities will be done at CIAT, the US mentor, Dr. Paul Gepts, also traveled to Uganda to provide oversight and guidance. The results of the study are expected to generate multiple scientific publications and generate information to be used in national disease management strategies, not only in Uganda, but throughout the region. Ddamulira expects to complete his research and receive his PhD in Plant Breeding and Technology by the end of 2015.