By Kathryn Ingerslew
CIMMYT Research Station, Mexico – Sukhwinder Singh has had a wide array of experiences in his research career, yet he chose to commit his talents to CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, like many others at the Borlaug 100. Singh is a wheat molecular geneticist and breeder. His emphasis on a wheat germplasm bank incorporates wild seed traits into commonly planted lines of wheat.
By introducing new genes into these varieties, Singh can create wheat that produces higher yield, is heat- and drought-stress tolerant, and uses nutrients efficiently. These new lines of wheat are on track to be available for production by 2016.
Singh came to CIMMYT through an indirect route, beginning his education at Punjab Agriculture University in India and graduating in 1990. Soon after, he became a Rockefeller Fellow at Kansas State University in Manhattan until 1994. Singh then became a career fellow at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines until 1998. He went back to Kansas State University to work for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) until 2010, when he found his home at CIMMYT.
Singh appreciates CIMMYT’s clear ethics and application of research, he said. Seeing the immediate outcome of his research and how it improves the lives of farmers is what motivates his work.
Recently, Singh has worked with the Indian government to provide funds to farmers. With these funds, the best lines of wheat will be identified to maximize yield for Indian farmers. Hopefully with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, these lines of wheat will also be utilized in surrounding areas of India, he said.