Dr. Robert Stewart Zeigler worked as a plant pathologist at IRRI in the Philippines from 1992 to 1998, during which he led the Institute’s Rainfed Lowland Rice Research Program (1992-96) and the Irrigated Rice Research Program (1996-98).
Dr. Zeigler earned his Ph.D. in plant pathology from Cornell University in 1982, his Masters in Botany (forest ecology) from Oregon State University in 1978, and his B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Illinois in 1972.
After graduating in 1972, he joined the Peace Corps and spent two years as a science teacher in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire) in Africa. He then returned to the U.S. to complete his studies before joining in 1980 IRRI’s sister center in Colombia, the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), as a visiting research associate working on cassava.
In 1982, Dr. Zeigler went to Burundi to work for three years as a technical adviser for the African nation’s maize program at the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi. He then returned to CIAT as the institute’s senior plant pathologist until 1992, ultimately taking over as the head of its rice program.
It was his success at CIAT that led IRRI to offer Dr. Zeigler his first position in the Philippines as leader of the Institute’s Rainfed Lowland Rice Research Program. After six years at IRRI, Dr. Zeigler left to become professor and head of the Department of Plant Pathology and director of the Plant Biotechnology Center at Kansas State University in the U.S. In 2004, he became director of the CGIAR's Generation Challenge Program based in Mexico.