GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureates 2020
- Dec 2, 2020


Professor, College of Resources and Environmental Sciences

President, National Academy of Agriculture Green Development

China Agricultural University

ZHANG Fusuo received his B.S. degree in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition from Northwest Agricultural University in 1982. He received a M.S. degree in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition from Beijing Agricultural University in 1985, and his Ph.D. in Plant Nutrition from the University of Hohenheim in 1989.

Dr. Zhang is an internationally renowned expert in plant nutrition and has dedicated his career to education and conducting research to solve agricultural production problems. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism of nutrient efficiency in the rhizosphere and he has made innovative and systematic achievements in the field of rhizosphere and plant nutrition, as well as nutrient management technologies in agroecosystems and their application in regional agriculture. He discovered that proper nutrient supply in the root zone can enhance the biological potential of the root system and significantly increase nutrient acquisition. Dr. Zhang’s team won the second prize of the National Natural Science Award in 2005 and the second prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award in 2008.

Food security and environmental protection are critical challenges facing humanity, and to address these challenges, Zhang Fusuo and his team have remained focused on plant nutrition theory and technological innovation for more than 30 years. The academic discipline of Plant Nutrition was established in China at Beijing Agricultural University (now China Agricultural University) in 1992 by a group of scholars led by Dr. Zhang. It combines the basic principles of plant nutrition with science-based fertilization and practical sciences, involving plant physiology, soil science, agronomy and nutrient management to achieve efficient utilization of resources, high crop quality and yields, along with environmental safety. Dr. Zhang has made major contributions to the development of China's agricultural resources and environment, expanded the dimensions and research fields of plant nutrition, and promoted the development of this discipline in China to tie into global plant nutrition research.

Dr. Zhang holds excellence in education as the core of his work, developing innovative training methods and courses for undergraduates, graduates and doctoral students. He created the Science and Technology Backyard (STB) postgraduate training program, which has significantly improved agricultural productivity and sustainability of rural areas in China and trained hundreds of talents. As a result, the STB program has won a number of awards, including the National Education Award and the China Agricultural University Teaching Special Award.

The STB education model has been recognized by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, and extended to 29 colleges and universities throughout China, as well as Laos and eight countries in Africa through “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education Alliance for Graduates of Science and Technology Backyards among Agricultural Universities” and “Belt and Road” training courses.

Dr. Zhang has also made outstanding contributions to the innovation and applications in the fertilizer industry and fertilization technology. Since the 1990s, fertilizer efficiency has declined across China, and agricultural pollution and other ecological and environmental problems have become increasingly prominent. After two decades of cooperative research with more than 50,000 farmers, Zhang’s team created methods and indices for quantifying nutrients in the root zone and created a real-time nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium monitoring technology. This technology has saved more than 20% of fertilizers compared with conventional techniques. This breakthrough was recognized with a 2008 National Science and Technology Progress Award. Through Sino-German, Sino-Dutch and Sino-British cooperation among leading universities, he promotes multilateral collaboration across science, education and resource sharing and has carried out multidisciplinary research on regional nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient cycling, which has contributed to improving the air quality and controlling the loss of nitrogen from farmland and husbandry resulting from intensive agriculture in North China.

In 2018, Dr. Zhang established the National Academy of Agriculture Green Development as a multidisciplinary platform to promote agricultural green development theories and methods nationwide, and support the national strategy of "green development and rural revitalization" across the country. Based on the Science & Technology Backyard education model, Dr. Zhang’s work is based on agricultural practice, which integrates government, industry, university, research and application to build a comprehensive platform for technological innovation, talent training and social service. Zhang is a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Pamela Ronald

Member of the National Academy of Sciences

Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center  

Director, Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy

University of California, Davis

Pamela Ronald is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, and the Founding Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis. She is also a key scientist at the Joint Bioenergy Institute, Emeryville, CA and a Faculty Affiliate at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University. She received her B.S. in Biology from Reed College in 1982, an M.S. in Biology from Stanford University in 1984, and an M.S. in Plant Physiology from the University of Uppsala, Sweden in 1985. In 1990 Dr. Ronald was awarded her PhD in Molecular and Physiological Plant Biology from the University of California, Berkeley where she focused on plant-bacterial interactions. She was a postdoctoral fellow working on rice genetics at Cornell University from 1990-1992.

Dr. Pamela Ronald is a plant geneticist and a leader in plant pathology. Her research in the past three decades has focused on increasing disease resistance and environmental stress tolerance in crops plants. Her work has contributed significantly to the genetic improvement of rice, a staple crop for more than half of the world's population.A pioneer in studies of innate immunity, she isolated a key receptor conferring recognition and response to disease-causing microbes and identified the microbial ligand for this receptor. Together with her collaborators, she discovered proteins central to other biological processes, notably those controlling flood tolerance. The team’s discoveries facilitated development of flood-tolerant rice now grown by more than six million subsistence farmers. She is widely recognized as a leader in agricultural and life sciences education and outreach, engaging in dialog with diverse communities on a vital topic: feeding a growing population without further destroying the environment.

Throughout her career, Professor Ronald has demonstrated highly distinguished scholarship. She is also widely recognized as an engaging speaker in communicating modern technologies, plant science and the importance of agriculture to the public. Ronald has a remarkable ability to make complex topics accessible to diverse audiences, and to sort facts from fiction in a thoughtful, articulate, and kind manner. Her audiences have included journalists, policymakers, K-12 and community college students, farm groups and retirement communities. Dr. Ronald established the UC Davis Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy (IFAL) to cultivate a community of young researchers dedicated to making scientific research accessible, relevant, and interesting to everyone. Ronald has also been widely recognized for her research integrity, efforts to correct the scientific record, and public engagement on these issues.

Dr. Ronald has made significant direct contributions to enhancing our understanding of agriculture, modern technologies and science and their importance to agriculture. Her 2015 TED Talk on plant genetics has been viewed by nearly two million people and translated into 26 languages. Her book, Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food, written with her husband, organic farmer Raoul Adamchak, has reached tens of thousands of people. Bill Gates called the book a “fantastic piece of work” and “important for anyone that wants to learn about the science of seeds and challenges faced by farmers.” Science magazine noted, “Ronald and Adamchak’s clear, rational approach is refreshing, and the balance they present is sorely needed in our increasingly polarized world.”

Dr. Ronald’s exceptional achievements in plant genetics and agriculture, the fundamental importance of her research, and her remarkable ability to advance the public’s understanding of food security, plant genetics, and sustainable agriculture is reflected in her selection by Scientific American as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology, by National Geographic as an innovator transforming her field of research, and by Grist magazine as one of the 50 innovators leading us toward a more sustainable future. In 2008 she received the USDA National Research Institute Discovery Award, and in 2012 a Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award, the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, and the 2012 Tech prize for innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. In 2014 she received a Director’s Award from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, recognized as one of today's most creative thinkers by Public Radio International’s Innovation Hub, and named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds by Thomson Reuters. In 2016, Ronald was named a Breakthrough Senior Fellow.. In 2019, she received an honorary doctorate from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and was awarded the American Society of Plant Biologists Leadership in Science Public Service Award.


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