Sep 21, 2020
AWARD Fellow becomes first female University Acting President in Ethiopia

Professor Fetien Abay- Abera, a renowned plant breeder and tenured professor in Ethiopia, has been appointed the acting President of Mekelle University, making her the first female University President and the only woman currently leading a public university in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Science and Education appointed Professor Abay-Abera as the acting President of Mekelle University following the recent retirement of the university’s long-serving president, professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot.

Professor Abay-Abera is a 2010 AWARD Fellow who has indeed embodied the vision of the flagship AWARD Fellowship which was established to widen the pipeline of women agricultural researchers in leadership. A woman of many firsts, professor Abay-Abera, started her career in Ethiopia’s Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) before joining Mekelle university as its first female lecturer and later becoming Ethiopia’s first female professor of Plant Breeding and Seed.

Abera’s pioneering work in participatory barley breeding in Ethiopia has seen her release five varieties of barley that have been widely adopted by farmers across the Tigray region of Ethiopia and beyond.

Professor Abay-Abera has received various accolades including the Impact Research and Science in Africa (IMPRESSA) Award of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in 2017, the winner of Ethiopian Women of Excellence (2015), the East African Regional Laureate of African Union Kwame Nkrumah Awards for Scientific Excellence (2014), among others.

Watch this video featuring how professor Abera’s work in plant breeding is revolutionizing food systems in Ethiopia.

About the flagship AWARD Fellowship

The AWARD Fellowship is a career-development program that has, since 2008, equipped top women agricultural scientists from 23 countries to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their science and leadership skills. AWARD Fellows benefit from a two-year program focused on fostering mentoring partnerships, building science skills, and developing leadership capacity. See the AWARD Fellows’ profiles here.



African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: awardqueries@cifor-icraf.org | Tel: +254 (0) 20 722 4242