Semagn Kolech is from Ethiopia and is working towards a PhD in Horticulture at Cornell University. His doctoral research project is entitled, “Analysis of Ethiopian Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) Varieties Resilient to Climate Change and Suiting Local Market Demand." The aim of the project is to assess Ethiopian potato genetic resources in relation to biotic and abiotic stresses and local market demand using semi-structured survey, screen house and participatory field experiments. Kolech hopes that this research project will provide critical information necessary to devise a potato research strategy targeting resource poor farmers using available genetic resources.
Kolech was awarded a Borlaug LEAP Fellowship in 2012. He has had a distinguished career as a leader of the National Potato Breeding Program at the Amhara Agricultural Research Institute in Ethiopia and is a published author. During his fellowship he worked with Dr. Steffen Schultz at the International Potato Center (CIP). Dr. Schultz is an agronomist with 20 years experience in agricultural research and development. His US mentor, Dr. Donald Halseth, Associate Professor in Horticulture supervised his DNA analysis work. Kolech aspires to be at the forefront in bringing change to the agricultural development process in Ethiopia. He plans on completing his PhD in 2015.