MAIZE Management Committee Members

Lead center representative

M_Banziger Marianne Bänziger

Marianne Bänziger has been the Deputy Director General for Research and Partnership at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT, Mexico) since 2009 and led the development of CRPs MAIZE and WHEAT. She entered CIMMYT in 1994 working in maize physiology for varieties tolerant to drought and low soil fertility, based in Zimbabwe before moving to Nairobi as Maize Program Director. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and contributed significantly to the development of drought-tolerant maize varieties in Africa.

FP 1

O_Erenstein Olaf Erenstein

Olaf Erenstein is Director of the CIMMYT Socioeconomics Program. Since joining CIMMYT in 2004, he has analyzed wheat and maize based innovations, systems and livelihoods in South Asia, and since 2009 drought tolerant maize and maize systems in Eastern and Southern Africa. Prior to joining CIMMYT, he has worked in Pakistan, Mexico and West Africa. His research has focused on RD implications based on agricultural system and innovation analysis in developing countries.

T_Abdoulaye Tahirou Abdoulaye

Tahirou Abdoulaye is from Niger. He is a Senior Agricultural Economist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based in Ibadan, Nigeria. His academic qualifications include a B.Sc. in economics (University of Niamey, Niger); and M.Sc. and Ph.D. in agricultural economics (Purdue University, USA). He has been involved in evaluation and impact assessment of several projects mainly in West Africa. His research work covers a wide range of rural economic issues including seed systems, farm-level efficiency and also technology evaluation and transfer. His more recent research interest focuses on innovation systems and how they can help increase technology uptake by small farmers.

FP 2

K_Pixley Kevin Pixley

Director of CIMMYT’s Genetic Resources Program since 2011, Kevin Pixley joined CIMMYT in 1990 as a postdoctoral fellow, and later served as a maize breeder (1993) and then team leader (1997) in Zimbabwe. After 11 years in Africa, he returned to CIMMYT headquarters in Mexico to serve in directing positions in the Global Maize Program. Main projects have included a maize breeders’ network on disease resistance and agronomic performance in E&S, and breeding provitamin A biofortified maize with focus on Zambia. Kevin is also Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

M_Gedil Melaku Gedil

Melaku Gedil has worked for IITA, Nigeria, since April 2007 and is presently the Head of the Bioscience Center and Molecular Geneticist/Breeder. He originally began as a postdoc at IITA and worked at Georgetown University, USA, before returning to IITA in 2007. He hopes to draw on his background in plant breeding, statistical genetics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics for developing and applying an efficient and effective molecular breeding program for pest and disease resistance, quality traits, and abiotic stresses such as drought. Among the approaches he uses are marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS), genome wide association study (GWAS), genome selection, linkage/QTL mapping, comparative genomics and bioinformatics.

FP 3

B_Prasanna B.M. Prasanna

B.M. Prasanna is Director of the CIMMYT Global Maize Program. He was faculty member of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), served as team leader for India under the CIMMYT-led Asian Maize Biotechnology Network (AMBIONET) during 1998-2005 and was an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) National Fellow during 2005-2010. At CIMMYT, he has led several Network Projects on molecular breeding, gene pyramiding, quality protein maize (QPM), biofortification, functional genomics, and allele mining. Prasanna’s research findings are published in over 82 refereed international journal articles.

Abebe Menkir Abebe Menkir

Abebe Menkir holds BSc-in Plant Science, MSc and PhD in Plant Breeding from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Manitoba (Canada), and Kansas State University (USA), respectively. Prior to his assignment at IITA as a maize breeder-geneticist in 1996, he worked as a sorghum and finger millet breeder at the Alemaya College of Agriculture and the Institute of Agricultural Research in Ethiopia. His current research emphases at IITA include breeding for high yield potential, resistance to diseases and Striga, drought tolerance, enhanced nutritional quality, and resistance to mycotoxin contamination.

FP 4

B_Gerard Bruno Gérard

Bruno Gérard is Director of the CIMMYT Global Conservation Agriculture Program since 2011. Prior to joining CIMMYT, he was Principal Scientist at ICRISAT (2000) where he developed and led projects investigating decision support to farmers and integrated soil fertility management. In 2008 he joined ILRI where he developed a project portfolio with 5 CGIAR centers and Wageningen University to research crop residue tradeoffs in South Asia, West Africa, East and Southern Africa. At CIMMYT, he and his team are developing integrated, multi-scale, and impact focused approaches for the sustainable intensification of maize and wheat-based systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

B_Vanlauwe Bernard Vanlauwe

Bernard Vanlauwe joined IITA in Kenya in March 2012 to lead the Central Africa hub and the Natural Resource Management research area. Prior to this appointment, he was the leader of the Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) program of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility research area of CIAT (TSBF). He joined CIAT-TSBF in 2001 and led the development, adaptation, and dissemination of best ISFM options in various agroecological zones in sub-Saharan Africa. In September 2010, he obtained a Visiting Professor position at the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala in the Soils and Environment Department.


V_Kommerell Victor Kommerell

Victor Kommerell is the program manager of the CGIAR Research Programs on Maize (MAIZE) and Wheat (WHEAT). He previously worked as a consultant to the CGIAR on strategy, human resources and project management, which included facilitation of a 2020 sustainability plan for the 10 CGIAR gene banks and an external evaluation of ILAC. Prior to working with the CGIAR, Victor worked with the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court and led a change management program at NATO HQ, after having worked for Perot Systems (people change management) and the Leipzig Trade Fair (b-to-b marketing).

Claudia Velasco Claudia Velasco
Note taker

Claudia is the Program Administrator of MAIZE. Prior to this appointment she worked as Project Coordinator of the MAIZE and WHEAT CRPs managing multiple sub-projects and she also served as Finance Manager for both Research Programs. Claudia has been trained in Program Management by the PMI and holds a certificate in Project Management for Development professionals (PMD Pro). Before joining CIMMYT, she worked in the private sector as Head Project Manager managing the construction of four maximum security prisons for the Mexican Government. She also worked as a consultant in budgeting and administration of resources for numerous iconic buildings in Mexico.