Dr. Silvia Restrepo headshot with the Jakob Eriksson Prize

Image Credit: The International Society for Plant Pathology

The International Society for Plant Pathology (ISPP) recently announced that incoming BTI president Dr. Silvia Restrepo has been honored with the 13th Jakob Eriksson Prize for Plant Pathology, the highest international accolade in the field. The award was presented on August 21, 2023, at the International Congress of Plant Pathology in Lyon, France. The event was attended by over 2400 people representing 100 different countries.

Restrepo, who serves as a Professor and Vice President for Research and Creation at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, has gained notable recognition for her pioneering research in mycology and plant pathology. Her significant contributions, particularly in addressing diseases affecting essential crops like cassava and potato in developing countries, have distinguished her in the field.

Silvia Restrepo standing at a podium with a presentation screen behind her

Image Credit: @QuesadaLabNCSU on Twitter

On receiving the award, Restrepo expressed, “It’s truly an honor to be recognized with the Jakob Eriksson Prize, a testament to the importance of international collaboration in plant pathology. My passion has always been focused on understanding and combating diseases that impact our essential crops, especially in developing regions.”

A native of Colombia, Restrepo obtained her Ph.D. at Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris. During her postdoctoral work at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, she became the first person to develop and use molecular markers to grasp the structure and evolution of cassava bacterial blight. “Working closely with the farming community, we were able to develop cassava varieties resistant to this blight, making a tangible difference to countless farmers,” Restrepo said.

Beyond research, Restrepo’s commitment to education, mentoring, and interdisciplinary collaboration stands out. She has been instrumental in forging academic bridges both in Colombia and globally. At Universidad de los Andes, she innovated with the creation of a minor in bioinformatics and a graduate program in computational biology. Additionally, she established a Digital Humanities laboratory, merging scientific research and creative endeavors. “Education and mentoring are close to my heart, and it’s essential to inspire the next generation of scientists,” she commented.

Having received numerous awards and recognitions, including from the Agropolis Foundation, the French Government, and The World Academy of Sciences, Restrepo’s latest accolade further cements her position as a leading figure in the field of plant pathology.

We join in recognizing and celebrating this esteemed honor for Restrepo, as we look forward to welcoming her as BTI’s ninth president in October.