12 May 2023, Lowa: The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has announced the 2023 Borlaug CAST Communication Award goes to Dr. Alison Bentley, Director of the Global Wheat Programme at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
While Bentley is known for her global research on wheat genetics, she is also recognized for her proficiency in science communication. Bentley has a passion for delivering practical applications from innovation to farmers, extensive reach through communicating and influencing, and mentoring and support of individuals and community efforts. Bentley’s exceptional work in raising awareness about the importance of wheat as a food crop is also evidenced by her wide-ranging list of communication activities.
In 2022 alone, Bentley delivered 20 scientific presentations—including five international keynote talks and 15 additional invited talks. Bentley focused her communication efforts around two major areas. The first area was her rapid, science-led response to the impact of the Russian/Ukraine war on global wheat production through a communication article in Nature, followed with a social media campaign and numerous presentations and invited policy briefings. Her second area of focus was a major communications campaign by initiating and leading the Women in Crop Science network. This network was developed to address key issues such as the promotion and championing of females throughout their research careers, creating equal opportunities, and increasing visibility of members.
The extensive breadth of Bentley’s outreach ranges from classic science presentations and open access articles, to blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, and Twitter campaigns. All these formats demonstrate her commitment to science communication and reaching as wide an audience as possible in an accessible way to engage with important, current topics regarding wheat supplies and plant breeding.
The official presentation of the award will take place at a special side event during the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue event in Des Moines, Iowa, in October. The Borlaug CAST Communication Award honors the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize winner and author of the first CAST publication, and Dr. Charles A. Black, the first executive vice president of CAST. It is presented annually for outstanding achievement by a scientist, engineer, technologist, or other professional working in the agricultural, environmental, or food sectors for contributing to the advancement of science through communication in the public policy arena.
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