Matt Rouse in wheat field with child World Food Prize

USDA researcher Rouse earns Borlaug award

Matthew Rouse earns the World Food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug Field Award for Field Research and Application for his work to control and eradicate Ug99.

Dr. Matthew Rouse, a researcher with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, is the winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

“Over the past six years, the World Food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug Field Award for Field Research and Application has emerged as the premier recognition in the world for young agricultural scientists under the age of 40,” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “The presentation of the award in this its seventh year to Dr. Matthew Rouse of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for his remarkable achievements in fighting the stem rust pathogen further reinforces the significant global importance of his accomplishments and the award itself.”

Rouse is a Research Plant Pathologist at USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St. Paul, Minn., and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota. His work, which aims to prevent cereal yield losses, focuses on wheat and barley resistance to stem rust and physiologic specialization of the barley leaf rust pathogen in the United States. 

Research focus

Rouse has played an essential role in the control and continued eradication efforts of Ug99, a devastating race of the stem rust pest that threatens the world’s wheat crops.

Rouse has scored between 40,000 and 80,000 infection types over the past 10 seasons, supporting more than 20 breeding programs around the world and more than 15 international wheat genetics programs working on characterizing stem rust resistance genes. His work has led to the release of several successful varieties resistant to Ug99, including ‘Linkert’ in the U.S., ‘NARC 2011’ in Pakistan, and ‘Kingbird’ in Ethiopia. In addition to these accomplishments, Rouse has authored or co-authored 75 research papers pertaining to the sources and genetics of stem rust resistance. Rouse represents many of the attributes embodied by Dr. Norman Borlaug, including persistence, innovation, communication, education, research and leadership.

“When I learned that I was selected for the Borlaug Field Award, I was humbled by both the legacy of Norman Borlaug and by the fact that any impact I made was a part of collaborations with talented and hard-working individuals at USDA-ARS, the University of Minnesota, CIMMYT, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, and other national programs. I feel greatly honored to receive this award commemorating the legacy of Norman Borlaug,” Rouse said.  

Rouse earned a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Minnesota, a Master’s in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Oklahoma State University. In 2017, he was named University of Minnesota’s Emerging Leader in Applied Plant Science.

Source: World Food Prize

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