Matthew Rouse recognized by World Food Prize as winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application

Matthew Rouse with child in Africa

Matthew RouseTo the more than 700 persons attending the Sustainable Development Goals Conference at Wageningen University in the Netherlands on August 30, the World Food Prize Foundation announced that Dr. Matthew Rouse, a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, is the winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Rouse’s 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.

“Over the past six years, the World Food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug 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 Amb. Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize. “The presentation of the award in this its seventh year to 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 with a woman in a wheat fieldRouse has played an essential role in the control and continued eradication efforts of Ug99, a devastating race of the stem rust pest that currently threatens the world’s wheat crops. Over Rouse’s past 10 seasons, he has scored between 40,000 and 80,000 infection types each season, supporting over 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 with a man in a labRouse 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.

“The Rockefeller Foundation remains humbled by Dr. Norman Borlaug’s contributions to ending global hunger,” said Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. “His discoveries as a young scientist working in the lab as well as in the fields alongside poor farmers saved millions of lives and made life possible for millions more. Today, we honor the work of Matthew Rouse of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for his important work to contain and reduce the impact of the devastating Ug99 wheat stem rust pathogen. Through his contributions to science and food security, Rouse upholds the same values demonstrated by Borlaug—namely, that food is the moral right of everyone born into this world.”

More information on the Borlaug Field Award.