Faces of the Borlaug 100: Emily Haghighi

By Meghan Eldridge 

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico —Emily Haghighi, a second-year graduate student in the MU Truman School of Public Affairs, is attending the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security to learn more about an issue she’s passionate about: food security.

Haghighi, 28, spent two years in the Peace Corps following graduation from Soka University of America in California.

Emily Haghighi, MU graduate student, presents a poster at the Borlaug summit on Wednesday. Haghighi shared her findings from two years in the Peace Corps with conference attendees. Photo by Shawna Rowe

Emily Haghighi, MU graduate student, presents a poster at the Borlaug summit on Wednesday. Haghighi shared the experiences she had in the Peace Corps stationed in Niger. Photo by Shawna Rowe

She worked in Niger in agriculture extension, sharing knowledge of intercropping with subsistence farmers in the village where she was stationed. Haghighi emphasized the potential to increase food security for families by growing legumes in between rows of millet.

She presented her experiences in the Peace Corps with fellow attendees at the Borlaug summit during a poster presentation Wednesday and Thursday.

In addition to her own poster, Haghighi presented a poster created by her mother, Kathleen Ross Dahlman. Dahlman’s poster shared the findings of a research collaboration between Ernie Sears, a wheat geneticist from MU, and Norman Borlaug that took place in the late 1950s.

The poster exemplified the connection Borlaug had with other scientists across the country as he studied the effects of stem rust on wheat varieties in Mexico, Haghighi said.

Haghighi plans to take what she’s learned at the conference and apply it to her study of non-profit and public management at MU.

“I’ve been really into the idea of collaboration and interdisciplinary work,” she said. “The researchers have been talking about the importance of working with policy-makers, non-profits and farm cooperatives to get their research to the farmers.”

That’s exactly what Norman Borlaug did, Haghighi said.

“Keeping the spirit of Borlaug alive is something we need to take away as young students, especially in the non-profit and policy worlds,” she said.

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