icipe Director General honoured by alma mater

Dr Segenet Kelemu selected a 2019 College of Agriculture

Alumni Fellow of Kansas State University

icipe Director General, Dr Segenet Kelemu, has been selected a 2019 College of Agriculture Alumni Fellow of Kansas State University, USA. Dr Kelemu earned a PhD in molecular biology and plant pathology from Kansas State University in 1989, after attaining an MSc at Montana State, USA, in 1985, and a Bachelors degree from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, in 1979.

 “The Fellows are chosen based on their high levels of professional accomplishment and distinguished service in their respective careers," said Andrea Bryant Gladin, K-State Alumni Association, Assistant Vice President of alumni programs and organiser of the Alumni Fellows program.

In 2019, 12 individuals were honoured, with Dr Kelemu being one of five women and the only international awardee. (*See complete list of 2019 Alumni Fellows of Kansas State University under the Notes to Editors section of this press release).

Since 1983, selected alumni return to K-State as distinguished guests, mentors, friends and counselors to students and faculty in classroom and informal settings. Dr Kelemu participated in the 2019 Alumni Fellows week between 10 –12 April, with an impactful schedule of ceremonies, presentations and addresseS. Her activities included an interview on ‘Insect-Borne Disease Issues’, by Agriculture Today, a Kansas State University radio programme featuring specialists and experts, which is distributed to radio stations throughout Kansas and is available as a podcast. The Director General also delivered a seminar titled ‘Transformative Technologies for Pest Management’. She also met with graduate students, faculty, staff, etc. in the various departments of the College of Agriculture, and held indepth discussions.

Driven by an enduring vision

“It is a great honour for me to return to K-State, an institution where I benefited from, and learnt the value of partnerships in science,” Dr Kelemu noted. “I remember attaining my PhD with the same aspiration that formed my choice of agriculture as a career path; to make a change in people’s lives. Having grown up in rural Ethiopia, I witnessed the daily struggle of communities trying to eke a living from their land while fighting a losing battle with pests and other factors. My vision was to acquire knowledge that would lead to solutions for such constraints.”

Dr Kelemu described icipe as an outstanding institution that strongly epitomises her ideology of science, observing: “While icipe generates high quality, world class knowledge, the Centre’s most authentic strength is the development of environmentally friendly, effective and accessible technologies, as well as the success in reaching numerous end users including farmers, agricultural extension officers, health professionals and policymakers.”

Close to 50 years since its founding, icipe has a well deserved reputation, not just as the only Centre in Africa working primarily on insects and other arthropods, but as a global centre of excellence, the Director General emphasized.

Dr Kelemu highlighted the upscaling and commercialisation of icipe’s innovative tsetse repellent collar technology, and the expansion of the Push-Pull technology across Africa out of a range of achievements since she commenced leadership of the Centre in November 2013. In addition, icipe has made tremendous progress in resource mobilisation, strengthening of its teams, and broader presence across the continent.

Further, Dr Kelemu discussed the Centre’s ongoing re-direction of its research programmes, including the mainstreaming of insects as a more affordable protein source in the animal feed sector, and the search for new, more effective tools for malaria.

“Recent reports rightly indicate a decline in malaria. However, the disease still remains a major challenge especially in Africa. Clearly, more innovative approaches are necessary to ensure progress does not plateau and that, indeed, the ultimate goal of malaria eradication is achieved,” noted Dr Kelemu.

As an example, icipe studies have identified microbes of considerable interest as they can block and prevent the mosquitoes from transmitting the malaria parasite.

It takes a (global) village

On her growing list of international accolades, Dr Kelemu stressed: “I feel extremely fortunate to be recognised by many organisations from different parts of the world. However, I am always aware that my personal efforts have been backed by immense support by researchers, graduate students, other staff, partners, my family, and global partners.”

The Director General concluded by attesting that the saying “it takes a village”, in this case a global one, is applicable to science; to herself; and to icipe as an institution.

Notes for Editors

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology: Our mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food security, and improve the overall health status of peoples of the tropics, by developing and disseminating management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods, while preserving the natural resource base through research and capacity building. icipe gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the following core donors: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); UK Aid, from the government of the United Kingdom; the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Kenya; and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. In addition, icipe receives restricted project funding from a range of institutions from across the world, among them, governments, private foundations and United Nations agencies. icipe also benefits from extensive partnerships with research collaborators (including universities and research institutes in Africa and beyond), private sector partners, and communities across Africa. A comprehensive list of icipe donors and partners is available at: http://www.icipe.org/donors-and-partners. For further information on icipe visit: www.icipe.org.

For further information on Dr Segenet Kelemuhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segenet_Kelemu

Media coverage







Complete list of 2019 Alumni Fellows of Kansas State University, USA

College of Agriculture
Segenet Kelemu ’89

Director General and CEO
International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology
Nairobi, Kenya


College of Architecture, Planning and Design
William Sullivan ’85

Professor and Head of Landscape Architecture
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois


College of Architecture, Planning and Design
William Sullivan ’85

Professor and Head of Landscape Architecture
University of Illinois
Urbana, Illinois

College of Arts and Sciences
Woody Leel ’66

Consulting Petroleum Geologist
W.G. Woody Leel, Jr.
Plano, Texas

College of Business Administration
Audrey Mross ’80

Munck Wilson Mandala LLP
Dallas, Texas


College of Education 
John Heim ’87

Executive Director
Kansas Association of School Boards
Topeka, Kansas

Carl R. Ice College of Engineering 
Kevin E. Burke ’86

President and CEO
Burke Construction Group
Las Vegas, Nevada


Global Campus 
Nathan Smit ’08

Senior Innovation Manager
Hormel Foods Corporation
Austin, Minnesota



Graduate School
Barbara W. Ballard, Ph.D. ’76, ’80

Kansas State Representative and Associate Director of Dole Institute of Politics
University of Kansas

Lawrence, Kansas

College of Technology and Aviation
Kali M. Hague ’10

Jetlaw, LLC
Washington, D.C.


College of Veterinary Medicine
M. Gatz Riddell, Jr. ’77

Professor Emeritus, Auburn University
Secretary General, World Association for Buiatrics
Auburn, Alabama

College of Arts and Sciences
John Guinotte ’96, ’99

Spatial Ecologist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sheridan, Wyoming