Melkamu Bezabih Derseh, Ph.D., has been named recipient of the inaugural Neville Clarke Award for International Research, awarded in Washington by Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

Three people stand next to podium adorned with The Great Seal of the United States.
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Associate Director of Operations Stephen Cisneros (center) and Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture Director Elsa Murano (right) present the inaugural Neville Clarke Award for International Research to Melkamu Bezabih Derseh, Ph.D.

Derseh is an animal nutritionist with the International Livestock Research Institute, ILRI — a CGIAR research center. His research in the CGIAR system has focused on forage technologies that address context-specific needs of smallholder farmers across African countries.  

With 15 years of experience in higher learning, Derseh has been an instrumental part of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation, ILSSI. The program is administrated by the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. ILSSI conducts research and development of irrigation technologies to support smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Tanzania. 

“We are proud to recognize a scientist of Dr. Derseh’s caliber and impact with this inaugural award,” said G. Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., director of AgriLife Research, Bryan-College Station. “His scientific impacts through ILSSI set a high bar for future recipients of this prestigious accolade.”

Recognizing international impact

Derseh’s acceptance of the Neville Clarke Award for International Research was part of a reception in Washington recognizing the last five years of ILSSI initiatives and impacts. The work of the lab was also presented in conference proceedings.

“This is so exciting for us, as the Innovation Lab for Small-Scale Irrigation is one of our most successful programs at the Borlaug Institute,” said Elsa Murano, Ph.D., director of the Borlaug Institute, Bryan-College Station. “This success is definitely due to our magnificent scientists and capacity-building experts, as exemplified by the great work that Dr. Derseh has been leading.”

In addition to conducting research and outreach activities, Derseh has taught courses in applied animal nutrition as well as on forage and pasture crop production and management.

He has authored 35 scientific papers. His studies have included experiments with irrigated fodder production and utilization for year-round feed production and supply. Derseh’s work includes evaluation of yield and benefits of researched practices to economies and employment. He has also fostered public-private partnerships to facilitate feed businesses and efficient use of locally available feed resources.

Derseh holds a bachelor’s in animal production and rangeland management from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; a master’s in animal nutrition from Bonn University, Germany; and a doctorate in ruminant nutrition from Wageningen University, Netherlands.

The Neville Clarke Award

The award is named for Neville Clarke, DVM, Ph.D., who since 1975 was an influential presence in AgriLife Research and a leader of many Texas A&M-based international programs until his death in 2022.

The award recognizes significant contributions to science and practice in international agriculture that align with the strategic priorities of AgriLife Research: Leading-edge research and innovations, sustainable production systems, economic strength and healthy living.

Recipients must conduct research projects supported by AgriLife Research in international settings. The research must demonstrate impact in project countries and scientific rigor through peer-reviewed publications.

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