Distinguished Professor/2009 World Food Prize Laureate
Office: Lilly 2-363
Gebisa Ejeta was born and raised in a small rural community in west-central Ethiopia. He completed his early education in his native country including a BS in Plant Sciences from Alemaya College in 1973. He attended graduate school at Purdue University earning his Masters (1976) and PhD (1978) in Plant Breeding & Genetics. In March 1979, Gebisa joined the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and conducted seminal sorghum research in Sudan for five years. In January 1984, Dr. Ejeta returned to Purdue University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy. Since then, he has led a comprehensive educational and research program at Purdue with emphasis on African agricultural research and development. He currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics and International Agriculture at Purdue University.
Professor Ejeta has served on numerous science and program review panels, technical committees, and advisory boards of major research and development organizations including the international agricultural research centers (IARCs), the Rockefeller Foundation, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and a number of national and regional organizations in Africa. He was a member of the team that launched the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa, a joint effort of the Rockefeller and Gates Foundation. Dr. Ejeta has served the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the largest publicly funded agricultural research consortium in the world as member of its Science Council (2008-2010) and currently as member of its Consortium Board. He is also a board member of Sasakawa Africa Program. Dr. Ejeta was recently designated special advisor to USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.
Dr. Ejeta is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America, and a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy. Among his many awards, Gebisa Ejeta was the recipient of the 2009 World Food Prize; and a national medal of honor from the President of Ethiopia.
Professor Ejeta is an advocate for purpose-driven research. His own research is focused on elucidating the genetic and physiological mechanisms of important traits in sorghum. Grain sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world. With its superior drought tolerance and broad adaptation, sorghum is grown worldwide, serving as a staff of life for over 500 million people in developing countries, and as the second most important feed crop in the United States. Ejeta’s research addresses some of the most crucial traits of sorghum production and utilization including nutritional quality, drought tolerance, cold tolerance, resistance to pests, diseases, and the parasitic weed, Striga. Concerns of global biodiversity, gene flow, and the use of sorghum as a bio-fuel crop are also investigated.
The goal of Ejeta’s sorghum research program is the development, release, and deployment of improved sorghum cultivars for both food and feed use. His sorghum research is generally characterized by its sustained commitment to translational approaches that generates products and technologies from research findings to impact farm productivity and the eventual utilization and profitability of the crop post-harvest. Dr. Ejeta utilizes a variety of research tools and works in interdisciplinary collaboration with a number of other scientists and programs. Professor Ejeta has released a large number of inbred lines, improved sorghum varieties and hybrids for use both in the United States and several countries in Africa. Several of his cultivars have been successfully deployed in a number of African countries.
Graduate education, mentoring of professionals, and developing partnerships are integral components of the sorghum research program. Professor Ejeta has trained and mentored a large cadre of domestic and international students and professionals at Purdue and in collaboration with other institutions. He has led many collaborative agricultural research and development projects, catalyzed the creation of public and private seed enterprises, and facilitated the formation of public-private partnerships in collaborating countries.
Saballos, A., G. Ejeta, E. Sanchez, C. Kang, and W. Vermerris. 2009. A genome-wide analysis of the cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase family in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) identifies SbCAD2 as the brown midrib6 gene. Genetics 181:783-795.
Vogler, R., T. Tesso, K. Johnson, and G. Ejeta. 2009. Effect of allelic variation on forage quality of brown midrib sorghum mutants. African J. of Biochem. 3(3):70-76.
Peters, P., M. Jenks, P. Rich, J, Axtell, and G. Ejeta. 2009. Mutagenesis, selection, and allelic analysis of epicuticular wax mutants in sorghum. Crop Sci. 49:1249-1258.
Saballos, A., W. Vermerris, L. Rivera, and G. Ejeta. 2009. Allelic association, chemical characterization and sacharification properties of brown midrib mutants of sorghum (S. bicolor (L.) Moench). Bioenerg. Res. 1:193-204.
Rich, P. J. and G. Ejeta. 2008. Towards effective resistance to Striga in African maize. Plant Signaling & Behavior 3:9, 618-621.
Amusan, I. O., P. J. Rich, A. Menkir, T. Housley, and G. Ejeta. 2008. Resistance to Striga hermonthica in a maize inbred line derived from Zea diploperennis. New Phytologist 178:157-166.
Knoll, J. E. and G. Ejeta. 2008. Marker-assisted selection for early season cold tolerance in sorghum: QTL validation across populations and environments. Theor. Appl. Genet.116:541-553.
Knoll, J., N. Gunaratna, and G. Ejeta. 2008. QTL analysis of early season cold tolerance in sorghum. Theor. & Appl. Genet. 116:577-587.
Tesso, T., I. Kapran, C. Grenier, A. Snow, P. Sweeney, J. Pedersen, D. Marx, G. Bothma and G. Ejeta. 2008. The potential for crop-to-wild gene flow in sorghum in Ethiopia and Niger: A geographic survey. Crops Sci. 48: 1425-1431.
Zhou, B., K. Ileleji, and G. Ejeta. 2008. Physical Properties Relationship of Bulk Maize Stover Properties. Trans. Amer. Soc. Ag and Biol. Engineering. 51(2): 1-10
Tesso T., B. Hamaker and G. Ejeta. 2008. Sorghum protein digestibility is affected by dosage of mutant alleles in endosperm cells. Plant Breeding 127: 579-586.
Ejeta, G. 2007. Breeding for Striga resistance in sorghum: Exploitation of an intricate host-parasite biology. Crop Sci. 47: S216-217.
Wilfred Vermerris, 1,2,3,*, Ana Saballos 1, Gebisa Ejeta1, Nathan S. Mosier 2,3, Michael R. Ladisch 2,3, and Nicholas C. Carpita 4. 2007. Molecular breeding to enhance production of ethanol from corn and sorghum stover. Crop Sci. 47:S142-153.
Adeola, O., E. K. D. Nyannor, S. A. Adedokun, B. R. Hamaker, and G. Ejeta. 2007. Nutritional evaluation of high-digestible sorghums for pigs and broiler chicks. J. Anim. Sci. 85:196-203.
Kean, E. G., G. Ejeta, B. R. Hamaker, and M. G. Ferruzzi. 2007. Carotenoid content of yellow endosperm sorghum varieties measured by high performance liquid chromatography with diode array detection. J. Agric. Food Chem. 55: 2619-2626.
Ejeta, G. 2010. African Green Revolution Needn't Be a Mirage. Science. 327:831-832.
Click here to see article.
Ejeta, G. 2009. Revitalizing agricultural research for global food security. Food Sec. 1:391-401.
Click here to see article.
Ejeta, G. 2009. Essentials for Science-based Agricultural Development in Africa. Testimony presented at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing of "Alleviating Global Hunger: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Leadership". 24 March 2009, Washington, DC.
Read full testimony here.
Date joined staff: January 1984