Santafe De Bogota, Columbia | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 1997
Dr. Cadena-Gomez is director of Cenicafe, the National Coffee Research Center of Colombia. Founded in 1938 by the National Coffee Growers Federation of Columbia (FEDERACAFE), Cenicafe assists coffee growers in all aspects of their trade. Because the coffee industry employs or supports more than one million citizens, its vitality is central to the prosperity of the Colombian economy.
Dr. Cadena-Gomez became associated with FEDERCAFE in 1971, when he served as head of the National Campaign against the Coffee Leaf Rust. After receiving his master’s degree in plant pathology at the National University of Colombia in 1978, he became assistant of Plant Pathology Section of Cenicafe. In 1980 he advanced to head of the same section. After earning his doctorate from Purdue in 1986, he returned to Cenicafe as a principle researcher at the Laboratory of Coffee Chemical Research. In 1988, He assumed his present position.
In 1985, the Del Ruiz volcano erupted, triggering an avalanche that destroyed Cenicafe. Dr. Cadena-Gomez was instrumental in the physical and philosophical rebuilding of the center. He instituted concepts such as non-hierarchical methods of administration and “laboratories without walls,” and he promoted teamwork, sharing and cooperation’s toward joint goals. Uniting staff scientist, the Extension Service, and coffee growers, he instituted a five-year strategic research plan to ensure the future success of Cenicafe.
Dr. Cadena-Gomez is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Biotechnology of Colombia and the Colombian Cooperation of Agronomic Research, among others. He also was honored in 1994 as the Agronomic Engineer of the Year by the Asociacion Caldense de Ingerieros Agronomos.