Honorary Degree Recipient
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, October 13, 2014
Monkombu S. Swaminathan, UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology, founder, chairman, and chief mentor of M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, is one of the world’s leading crop scientists. Following Dr. Norman Borlaug’s “Green Revolution” technologies of breeding high-yield, disease-resistant wheat in Mexico, he is called the “father of the Green Revolution” in India for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India. About one billion people were saved from starvation because of the introduction of tons of seeds of the new wheat varieties. The development of “miracle rice” was the other part of the Green Revolution. As the fourth director general of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, in 1982 he fostered the development of the new rice varieties, which feed half of the world. In 1987, Swaminathan was awarded the first World Food Prize. He used the $250,000 monetary award that came with the Prize to open a research center, the M.S. Swarninathan Research Foundation in Chennai, India in 1988. The Foundation’s projects collaborate with global leaders and rural citizens to ensure coordinated research and action for issues such as protecting the coastal biodiversity, promoting biotechnological approaches to micro-level farming, pursuing groundbreaking innovations in ecotechnology, fostering new methods for community education and technical training, initiating low-cost and self-maintained programs for rural internet access, and empowering grassroots-level food producers to take action towards increased food security and sustainable development. He has published several hundred papers in international journals and several books. Swaininathan has chaired numerous national and international committees, including the United Nations World Food Congress in Rome, and the Indian Expert Group on Programs for the Alleviation of Poverty, Eradication of Leprosy and Blindness. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including 70 honorary degrees, a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and the Royal Society of London, and a Fellow of the Science Academies of Sweden, Italy, United States, China and two-dozen other countries. Swaminathan was honored by Time magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century.
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.