Norman Borlaug Award recipient has Kansas State University ties

To the more than 700 persons attending the Sustainable Development Goals Conference at Wageningen University in the Netherlands today, the World Food Prize Foundation announced that Matthew Rouse, a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, is the winner of the 2018 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.

President Louise Fresco of Wageningen University, W. Ronnie Coffman and Shenggen Fan, all members of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors were present at the announcement.

“Over the past six years, the World Food Prize Dr. Norman Borlaug Field 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 is a research plant pathologist at USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab in St. Paul, Minnesota, and an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota. His 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.

Rouse 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 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 earned a doctorate in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota, a master’s in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University, and a bachelor’s from Oklahoma State University. In 2017, he was named University of Minnesota’s Emerging Leader in Applied Plant Science.