Andhra Pradesh, India | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 1996
Melak Mengesha is director of Genetic Resources Division, International Crop Research Institute for the semi–arid tropics (ICRISAT), based in Hyderabad, India. ICRISAT's primarily primary products are world germplasm collections and development of improved cultivars for many crops. In addition to India, the organization has regional centers in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malami, Mali and Niger. Currently, he is on sabbatical leave from ICRISAT, serving interim coordinator for the CG System–Wide Genetic Resources Program, with headquarters in Rome. As a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Mengasha earned his bachelor’s degree implant sizes from Haile Sellassie 1st University in Alemaya, Ethiopian. He earned a master’s degree in agronomy and botany from the University of Nebraska, then came to Purdue to study genetic and plant breeding. In 1964 Dr. Mengesha was appointed assistant professor of the Plant science department for that Alemaya College of Agriculture in Ethiopia. He quickly ascended from the academic ladder, being promoted to full professor 1974 and serving as the dean of the college. From here he became special assistant to the president at Addis Ababa Univeristy in his hometown. He was responsible for academics, research, planning, development, and administration of special and external prgrams. Since 1978 Melak has been in his current position with ICRISAT. As leader of Genetics Resource Division, he has developed an international gene bank, organizing collaborative germplasm conservation projects between ICRISAT and national programs in India and Africa. The ICRISAT gene bank holds over 96,000 accessions of sorghum, pearl millet, pigeonpea, chickpea, groundnut, and minor millets to aid future crop improvement research. Melak has authored more than 95 miscellaneous publications and is a fellow of the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding. He is a lifetime member of the Ethiopian Society of Agricultural Sciences, Millet Workers Association of India, and the American Society of Agronomy.