World Food Prize 2013 laureate Dr. Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto's executive vice president and chief technology officer, announced that both he and Monsanto will match his share of the World Food Prize award to establish the Fraley-Borlaug Scholars in Plant Science scholarship.
The scholarship will fund female students at the University of Illinois who are studying plant breeding and biotechnology. The matches will bring the total initial endowment to the University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to $250,000.
Fraley, an alumnus of the University of Illinois, made the announcement as part of the 2013 World Food Prize. The World Food Prize awarded Fraley and fellow 2013 laureates Dr. Marc Van Montagu and Dr. Mary-Dell Chilton for their world-changing achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agricultural biotechnology.
"The advances being made in breeding, biotechnology and agronomics to improve crop yields are truly amazing - but, our work isn't done," Fraley said.
"Through the Fraley-Borlaug Scholars fund, we're making an investment in the future to unlock the potential in the next generation of female scientists who will continue to drive innovation in safe and sustainable food production. Women are underrepresented in this scientific community today, yet they also make up the majority of smallholder farmers around the world and stand to gain the most from current and future innovations in plant science."
Dr. Norman Borlaug is recognized as the father of the Green Revolution and is credited with saving more than 1 billion lives as a result of improved wheat production. He created the World Food Prize in 1986 to honor those who have made significant and measurable contributions to improving the world's food supply.
"My grandfather strongly believed in filling agriculture's intellectual pipeline with young people," said Julie Borlaug, Associate Director of External Affairs at the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M. "I know he would be very proud of Dr. Fraley and Monsanto's announcement today, and honored to have this scholarship fund created in his name."
Beginning in 2014, Monsanto plans to announce the annual beneficiaries of the Fraley-Borlaug scholarship in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue symposium.
"Dr. Fraley's work has helped shape modern agriculture science and is a real-life example of our mission to find solutions to the world's most critical challenges," said Dr. Robert Easter, president of the University of Illinois. "We're proud to count him among our alumni and to be his partner in inspiring the next generation of female innovators."
The new Fraley-Borlaug Scholars in Plant Science scholarship is another example of Monsanto's long-term commitment to educating the next generation of scientists. The company established the Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program in 2009 with the goal of aiding Ph.D-seeking students in the development of highly educated rice and wheat breeders who can serve as future leaders in the field of agriculture.
"At Illinois, our mission always has been to pioneer the science and the art of learning. It is one of the pillars of our strategic plan," said University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Dr. Phyllis Wise.
"This generous gift from Robb and Laura Fraley and Monsanto will ensure that promising women with a dedication to a career addressing international crop productivity and world hunger will have the opportunity for the transformative learning experience Illinois offers."