The Society for In Vitro Biology established the Young Scientist Award to recognize outstanding early-career scientists who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology and/or in the development of novel technologies that have advanced in vitro biology.  At the 2018 In Vitro Biology Meeting in St Louis, MO the Society for In Vitro Biology awarded Dr. Esther Eyiuche Uchendu with the Young Scientist Award.

Esther Eyiuche Uchendu receives the Young Scientist Award from Section Chair Randall Niedz

Dr. Esther Eyiuche Uchendu, 2018 SIVB Young Scientist

During the Plant Biotechnology Section meeting at the 2018 Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) conference, Dr. Ester Eyuiche Uchendu was acknowledged for receiving the SIVB Young Scientist Award as a result of her contributions to the field of in vitro biology and SIVB.

Dr. Uchendu received her BSc and MSc from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1995, 2000), and her PhD from Oregon State University, Oregon, USA (2009) which was followed by postdoctoral work at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada (2011) and, most recently, at the University of Mississippi (2016). Esther has successfully met the requirements of this award as she has demonstrated significant research contributions in the area of in vitro biology (clonal propagation, somatic embryogenesis and cryopreservation of several plant species), has an excellent publication record, has applied her knowledge in her home country, and has successfully mentored many students, fellow academics and others. Since graduation, Esther has won grants including the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Nigeria, for research to increase clean yam production in her region, and also a visiting scientist award for collaborative research projects with scientists in Germany under the TWAS-DFG cooperative visits program. Her area of expertise is in vitro biology and its application to conservation systems, improving processes and workflows for tissue culturing, and transfer of technology. In doing so she has left her mark in several nations – Nigeria, Canada, Germany and USA – and people. Her goal is to advance the knowledge and application of plant tissue culture under controlled environments to address the problems encountered during clonal propagation and conservation of unique, rare and economic plant species while expanding knowledge of plant growth and development.

Dr. Esther Eyiuche Uchendu

Esther is currently doing an internship at the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR),University of Mississippi. She is standardizing protocols for micropropagation and cryopreservation of medicinal Marijuana. One of her students won the Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) 2015 student travel award. She has also organized special training workshops to educate and provided hands-on-training to students and staff from various research institutes across West Africa in order to build capacity in tissue culture and cryopreservation initiatives for sustainable food production and food security in African agricultural programs. Dr. Esther Uchendu’s research since joining the University of Ibadan has focused on important tropical crops with the goal of improving the food security situation of Nigeria and tropical Africa. She has published the results of her research, which have great implications for sustainable production of Nigeria’s vegetatively propagated crops, in reputable peer review journals and books. She is the recipient of Nigerian government research grant on in vitro protocols for the micropropagation and cryopreservation of virus-free yam varieties. In addition she trained a private agribusiness entrepreneur whose business is currently thriving in a challenging Nigerian economy.

The international impact of SIVB in general, and Dr. Uchendu in particular, can be felt in a small way by the international outpouring of response to the gaining of this award by Dr. Uchendu, to list but a few:

The adjectives used to describe Dr. Esther Uchendu by her nominees are telling: hardworking, intelligent, energetic, focused scientist; has excellent mentoring skills; very innovative and creative; enthusiastic and highly motivated; works very hard to accomplish excellence in her research; great interpersonal skills; conscientious, careful, considerate and prompt in providing updates on her accomplishments; very patient and thorough in her approach to research; great ability to work well under pressure and incorporates ideas and suggestions of her collaborators. Dr. Uchendu has served SIVB well, by presenting her work while volunteering at many of the yearly meetings and being a member of the SIVB student award committee, to name but a few of her contributions. As a fellow volunteer, both Carol Stiff and myself met her and became firm friends. We have both called upon Esther for her expertise many times over the years. She truly is dedicated to helping make the world a better place.

Well done Esther. Walk good and keep going!!

Submitted by Sylvia Adjoa Mitchell