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Norman Borlaug

1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and U alum Norman Borlaug will visit the Twin Cities campus on Monday, Sept. 18, to mark the release of a new biography, "The Man Who Fed the World," by Leon Hesser.

No slowing down for Borlaug

Nobel laureate returns to the U to present an award, celebrate a book - and mark a new day in his honor

By Jim Thorp

Sept. 12, 2006

At age 92, Norman Borlaug would be forgiven if he ceased making speeches and public appearances. Instead, the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and University of Minnesota alumnus will take a short break from his ongoing research, education and advocacy efforts around the world to take part in the annual E.C. Stakman Award ceremony and to mark the release of a new biography, "The Man Who Fed the World," by friend and colleague Leon Hesser.

A plant pathologist by training, Borlaug has spent the better part of six decades fighting hunger in Africa, Asia and Mexico--saving, by some estimates, as many as one billion lives. Hesser met Borlaug in Pakistan in 1966 and worked to introduce Borlaug's high-yield wheat and production techniques to the Asian subcontinent.

Hesser's book, which features a foreword by former President Jimmy Carter, describes Borlaug's life in straightforward prose befitting his Norwegian immigrant family and rural Iowa upbringing. Underlying themes of old-fashioned common sense, decency, humility and hard work still resonate because Borlaug's work--in fields, laboratories and the halls of government--continues today.

Borlaug and Hesser will arrive on campus on Monday, Sept. 18--the date that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently declared to be Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Day in recognition of Borlaug's contributions to the University, the state and the world. Borlaug earned his bachelor's degree from the University in 1937, his master's degree in 1939 and his doctorate in 1942.

Their arrival kicks off a full slate of activities, including the following events open to the University community:

1:45-2:30 p.m. Seminar by Leon Hesser: "Unsung Hero: The Man Who Fed the World," with an introduction and comments by Norman Borlaug, 105 Cargill Building

3:15-5 p.m. Stakman Award reception and Hesser book signing, Cargill Atrium

Borlaug and Hesser will also take part in various departmental activities, including seminars and discussion sessions with plant pathology graduate students and undergraduate ambassadors, as well as the Stakman Award ceremony, in which Borlaug will speak to the accomplishments of this year's recipient, University alumnus John Gibler.

The Department of Plant Pathology in the new College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences presents the Stakman Award for outstanding achievements in plant pathology. Gibler's work paralleled that of his Rockefeller Foundation mentors, Stakman and Borlaug. He is recognized in particular for his work leading to the development of disease-resistant cereals throughout Latin America, the adaptation of cereal varieties and soybean production protocols for "worn-out" soils in Brazil, and the training and organizing of plant scientists in Latin America, as well as for his unique abilities to influence politicians, administrators and growers worldwide to adopt policies and protocols that help end world hunger. Gibler earned his master's degree from the U of M in 1950, and his doctorate in 1951. As Gibler is unable to attend the award ceremony, his daughter, Jan Krukar, will receive the award on his behalf.

Further reading Bread and Peace The father of the "Green Revolution" Feeding the world Norman Borlaug: 90 years strong