For the first time in the 22-year history of the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship, the World Food Prize Foundation is offering online internships for 13 students.
Hailing from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the 2020 Borlaug-Ruan International Interns will interact online with scientists and policymakers around the world to address issues related to poverty and global food security.
The 2020 Borlaug-Ruan international interns:
- Andrew Berley, North Carolina State University, will intern at China Agricultural University in Beijing, China;
- Allison Chhay, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will intern at World Vegetable Center in Tainan, Taiwan;
- Amanda Dougherty, University of Iowa, will intern at M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India;
- Shantal Hernandez, Brown University, will intern at International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya;
- Michael Laumbach, Rutgers of New Brunswick, will intern at International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya;
- Aracely Miron-Ocampo, University of Iowa, will intern at World Vegetable Center in Tainan, Taiwan;
- Sanjana Molleti, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, will intern at International Potato Center in Lima, Peru;
- Amulya Pillutla, Stanford University, will intern at International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya;
- Grace Reiss, Iowa State University, will intern at M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India;
- Hannah Schiesl, Iowa State University, will intern at International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya;
- Bethany Starlin, The Ohio State University, will intern at International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, Kenya;
- Mukund Tarimala, The Ohio State University, will intern at Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, China;
- Arilyn Tegtmeier-Oatman, Iowa State University, will intern at M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India.
Since 1998, the World Food Prize Foundation has sent 358 students on eight-week, all-expenses-paid research internships to learn about food security issues and nutritional problems in developing regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Given the wide-spread global pandemic, the Foundation changed course this year to an online setting with the goal of still providing rewarding internships for these hunger fighters.
“One of the things I am most excited for during this internship is [virtually] meeting the farmers of Kenya and getting a firsthand insight into the agriculture there,” said 2020 Borlaug-Ruan International Intern Amulya Pillutla. “I am also very excited to meet and work with my fellow interns and mentors. I am so thankful to the World Food Prize Foundation for making this internship happen in spite of the circumstances.”
Although interns are not able to travel, they will develop valuable research skills, create lasting connections with mentors through online discussions and learn about the culture and history of the country that is the focus of their research.
Dr. Norman Borlaug and John Ruan Sr. created the program in 1998 with the hope that it would inspire young people to consider academic and career paths in agricultural science, food technology and natural resource conservation.
“The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship reinforces the idea that food security is much more complex than it seems,” said former Borlaug-Ruan International Intern Akriti Bhattarai. “The more I learned about micronutrient deficiencies and biofortification for my research project, the more interested I became in this issue. My work as a summer intern solidified my resolve and commitment to combating food insecurity.”
Interns will be involved with a variety of projects dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger in: the production of cowpeas on the livelihoods of farmers; the preservation of indigenous cultures; and the ability of wheat to withstand droughts. Several are also conducting research on how the coronavirus pandemic may affect agriculture in their assigned regions.
A prerequisite for the Borlaug-Ruan International Internship is attending the three-day World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, which occurs each October. Global Youth Institute participants present research papers and interact with World Food Prize Laureates and renowned experts to discuss issues relating to food security throughout the world.
“I have always known I wanted to make a global difference with my career, but I did not know where or how to start,” said 2020 Borlaug-Ruan International Intern Aracely Miron-Ocampo. “After being part of the World Food Prize youth programs throughout high school I was connected with like-minded students and professionals who had the common goal of tackling prominent world problems. This organization has led me towards a career path where I want to combine agriculture and medicine through global health and nutrition by investigating food security issues and nutritional problems around the world.”
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