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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Maize breeder rewarded for his research to enhance food security in Africa
2016-08-26

Description: Maize breeder rewarded  Tags: Maize breeder rewarded

Prof Maryke Labuschagne from the UFS Department
of Plant Sciences, Berhanu Tadesse Ertiro, a
postgraduate student in Plant breeding at the UFS,
and Dr Peg Redinbaugh of the US Department of
Agriculture in Wooster, Ohio.
Photo: Supplied

Ethiopia is one of the African countries, deeply affected by food insecurity. Berhanu Tadesse Ertiro, a citizen from Ethiopia started his career - after graduating with his undergraduate degree in 2003 - as a junior maize breeder. Today he is pursuing his doctorate degree in Plant Breeding at the University of the Free State (UFS).

His research had made some great strides in contributing to food security in Africa. He recently received a fellowship from the prestigious Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP).

This fellowship is only awarded to students whose research has relevance to the national development of the student’s home country or region. The aim of these fellowships are to enhance the quality of thesis research of graduate students from developing countries who show strong promise as leaders in the field of agriculture and related disciplines.

Low soil fertility a major maize production constraint
Berhanu is also a visiting student at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Kenya, where he is running field experiments for his PhD thesis dissertation. His research focuses on Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) and Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN) disease tolerance. Low soil fertility and MLN are among the major maize production constraints in eastern and southern Africa, where maize is staple food.

Such hybrids have the potential to contribute greatly
towards food security among farmers and their
families through increased productivity.

The use of new tools could increase breeding efficiency and reduce the time needed for the release of new stress tolerant hybrids. Such hybrids have the potential to contribute greatly towards food security among farmers and their families through increased productivity. Berhanu is looking at the feasibility of genome wide selection for improvement of NUE in tropical maize.

Fellowship includes mentorship and supervision across borders
The programme supports engaging a mentor at a United States university and Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR). During his fellowship, he will be supervised and mentored by Prof Maryke Labuschagne of the UFS, Prof Rex Bernando, a professor of Corn Breeding and Genetics at the University of Minnesota and Dr Biswanath Das of CIMMYT, Kenya.

As a LEAP fellow, Berhanu was invited to attend the 30th Annual World Food Prize events to take place in October 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. The week will include his attendance at the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development meeting, participation at side-events at the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium and the World Food Prize.

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