Dr. Robert Zeigler
Dr. Robert "Bob" Zeigler is an internationally respected plant pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research in the developing world. He is the director general of IRRI.
As director general, Bob is the chief executive officer (CEO) of IRRI, who directly manages and administers its affairs in accordance with the policies and decisions of the board of trustees. As CEO and in close consultation with the IRRI Board of Trustees he sets the Institute’s strategic direction. He is also a passionate spokesperson on a wide range of issues that affect rice growers and consumers worldwide.
His professional life spanned Africa, Latin America, US, and Asia. He has had a productive research career on diseases of rice that focused on host-plant resistance, pathogen and vector population genetics, and their interactions to develop durable resistance and sustainable disease management practices.
As Bob's career moved increasingly towards research management his interests expanded to include broader crop management issues, the social forces shaping the agricultural environment, and finally the economic and political arena that frames food security and poverty issues. He has published over 100 scientific works in these areas and often serves as an expert resource on rice security in the regional and global media.
Bob is also the founding chairman of the board of the IRRI Fund
Bob previously worked at IRRI from 1992 to 1998 as a plant pathologist. During this period, he led the Rainfed Lowland Rice Research Program and then later the Irrigated Rice Research Program. After completing undergraduate work in 1972, he joined the Peace Corps and spent 2 years as a science teacher in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. He later joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia as a visiting research associate to work on cassava diseases.
Starting in 1982, he spent 3 years in Burundi to work as a technical adviser for that African nation's maize program at the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi. He then returned to CIAT, eventually becoming head of the Rice Program.
He became professor and head of the Department of Plant Pathology and director of the Plant Biotechnology Center at Kansas State University in the United States in 1999. Before returning to IRRI, he was the founding director of the Generation Challenge Program (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) based in Mexico. The GCP supports research at many institutions around the world directed towards understanding and applying genetic diversity to crop improvement.
He has completed corporate governance programs from Harvard Business School and Kellogg School of Management. Dr. Zeigler is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Phytopathological Society and is a member of the honor societies Sigma Xi (The Scientific Research Society) and Gamma Sigma Delta (agriculture).
He is the chairman of the board of directors of the Association of International Agricultural Research Centers (AIARC). The AIARC, incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, manages salary payments, retirement and medical benefits and insurance for the more than 1,200 internationally recruited staff of the 15 CGIAR centers, and their retirees.
He has authored and co-authored well over 100 refereed international journal articles, reports, and scientific papers and has delivered numerous invited lectures worldwide. He is married and has three grown children.
- Doctor of Philosophy (1982), Cornell University and CIAT. Major field: Plant Pathology. Minor field: Plant Breeding.
- Master of Science (1978), Oregon State University. Major field: Forest Ecology. Minor field: Soils/Statistics.
- Bachelor of Science (High Honors) (1972), University of Illinois. Major field: Biological Sciences. Minor field: Chemistry and Mathematics.
- Director General, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (2005-current)
- Director, Generation Challenge Program (2004-March 2005)
- Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology and Director, Plant Biotechnology Center, Kansas State University (1999-2004)
- Leader, Irrigated Rice Research Program and Plant Pathologist, IRRI (1992-1998)
- Leader, Rainfed Lowland Rice Research Program and Plant Pathologist, IRRI (1992-1996)
- Leader, Rice Program, Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia (1986-1992)
- Senior Staff Plant Pathologist, CIAT Rice Program (1985-1992)
- Technical adviser, Burundi Maize Program, Institut des Sciences Agronomique du Burundi. Employed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada (1982-1985)
- Visiting Research Associate, CIAT Cassava Program (1980-1981)
- Cornell University. Graduate Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant, Department of Plant Pathology (1978-1980)
- Oregon State University. Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant, Department of Botany and Plant Pathology (1975-1977)
- Technician, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle (1974-1975)
- Secondary School Science Teacher, College Musim, Mokala, Zaire. (Peace Corps) (1972-1974)
Awards and associations
- Leadership in Science Public Service Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists (2013)
- International Plant Protection Award of Distinction from the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS) (2011)
- Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology (GBPUA&T) in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand (2011)
- Medal ”for the cause of science and technology development in Vietnam” (2010)
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Partnership Award for Innovative Program Models (2010)
- E.C. Stackman Award from the University of Minnesota (2009)
- Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (2009)
- Leader Alumni Award from the Oregon State University College of Agriculture (2008)
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
- Time Magazine Global Innovator Award (2007)
- Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sardar Vallavh Bhai Patel University of Agriculture and Technology, Modupuram, Uttar Pradesh, India (2007)
- “For the Cause of Agricultural Development in Vietnam”, medal of recognition (2007)
- Who’s Who in Agricultural Higher Education (2003)
- International Service Award, the American Phytopathological Society (2001)
- Gamma Sigma Delta (Honor Society of Agriculture-elected 2000)
- Outstanding Research Publication Award from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (1996)
- Outstanding Research Publication Award from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (1994)
- Sigma Chi (1982)
Selected recent publications
- Plant Diseases and the World’s Dependence on Rice, R. S. Zeigler and S. Savary in The Role of Plant Pathology in Food Safety and Food Security, Plant Pathology in the 21st Century, 2010, Volume 3, Part 1, 3-9.
- Zeigler, R. S. , The relevance of rice. Rice 1(1): 3-10, ill. Ref. Sept. 2008.
- Zeigler, R. S., Sustainability of rice production systems: water, soil, and ecosystem services. In: Rice, water, and forests, ed. by S. J. Banta, p. 83-115, ill. Ref. Los Banos, Laguna: Asia Rice Foundation, 2008.
- Nutrient-pest interactions under irrigated lowland rice production systems with farmer's fertilizer practice and site-specific nutrient management in South & Southeast Asia, Cruz PCS, Dobermann A, Du F, Simbahan GC, Hill JE, Zeigler RS, Dela Pena FA, Samiayyan K, Suparyon, Tuat NV, Zhong Z. Philippine Journal of Crop Science, Volume: 32 Issue: 1 Pages: 13-28 Published: APR 2007.
- Zeigler RS, Why rice is still important in Asia and what IRRI is doing about it. In: Does rice have a future in Asia? p. 3-11, ill. [S.l.: S.n.], 2007.
- Zeigler, R. S. Title Rice and the millennium development goals: the International Rice Research Institute's strategic plan 2007-2015. Source Paddy Water Environ. 5(2): 67-71. June 2007.
- Zeigler, R. S. Bringing hope, improving lives. In: Science, technology and trade for peace and prosperity [electronic resource]: proceedings of the 26th International Rice Research Conference, 9-12 October 2006, New Delhi, India, ed. by P. K Aggarwal, et al., p. 15-22. New Delhi: National Academy of Agricultural Sciences; Los Baños, Laguna : IRRI, 2007.