WACCI is guided by an Advisory Board. The Board was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana to advise on the overall strategy of the Centre. Below are short profiles of the members of the Advisory Board.
Eugene Terry, Chair
Dr. Eugene Terry is the Chairman of the Advisory Board. Eugene is the Founding Director (2002-2004) of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF). Prior to that, he worked with the World Bank first as an Advisor (Agricultural Research and Extension Group-ESDAR), and then later as Crops Advisor, in the Rural Development Department. Dr Terry was the first Director General of the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA), Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire, (now The Africa Rice Centre) a position he held for nine (9) years.
In addition to his thirty-seven years of professional experience in teaching, research, technology development and institutional leadership, Eugene has served as member and Chair of various boards of trustees, steering committees and advisory groups. He has received awards for his work from Canada, Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. He brings to the Board enormous leadership and wealth of experience spanning the length and breadth of the agricultural value chain. Eugene is Honorary Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Genetics and Plant Pathology, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Kwa Zulu –Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
He holds a PhD in plant pathology from the University of Illinois, USA, an MSc. in plant pathology and a BSc. in agriculture from McGill University, Canada.
Eric Y. Danquah, Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement, University of Ghana
Eric Yirenkyi Danquah is a Professor of Genetics and presently the Director of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana.
Eric is the immediate past Dean of International Programmes, University of Ghana and is a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth and Cambridge Philosophical Societies. Some of his academic scholarships and awards are UK Commonwealth Academic Fellowship, UK Commonwealth Scholarship, UK Vice-Chancellors’ Overseas Research Scholarship and Distinguished Alumnus, Legon Hall, University of Ghana. He has a number of refereed scientific publications, manuscripts, books, consultancy/technical reports and conference proceedings to his credit. He has consulted for many international organizations and was a member of the External Panel Management Review Team of ICRISAT, 2003-2008.
Eric holds an M.Phil in Plant breeding (1987) and a Ph.D in Genetics (1993) from the University of Cambridge, UK. His main research areas are genetic diversity in crop plants and associated pests, biotechnologies in crop improvement, and farmers’ knowledge in plant breeding. He was a Visiting Scientist at the Plant Breeding International, Cambridge, UK (1993-1994) and the Institute of Arable Crops Research, University of Bristol, UK (2000-2001).
Samuel K. Offei, Associate Director, West Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI)
Samuel Kwame Offei is a Professor of Molecular Plant Virology and an Associate Director of WACCI. He is currently the Dean of the School of Agriculture, College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences (CACS) in the University of Ghana.
Kwame has contributed immensely to the institutional development of the University of Ghana and the development of biotechnology in the West African sub-region. Kwame is a member of many professional bodies including the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences and the Association of Applied Biologists. He served as the Chair of West Africa NEPAD Bioscience Steering Committee and has consulted for many international organisations including FAO, UNU/INRA, DFID and USAID,
Kwame holds a PhD (Molecular Plant Virology) from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London, a Diploma (Seed Pathology) from the Royal University of Veterinary and Agricultural Science, Denmark, an M.Phil (Plant Virology) from Wye College, University of London and a BSc. (Agriculture) from the University of Ghana.
Ronnie Coffman, Director, International Programmes, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Ronnie Coffman serves as International Professor of Plant Breeding and Director of International Programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. He also serves as Principal Investigator of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project (ABSPII) and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project. Previous positions include Associate Dean for Research and Director, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station; Chair of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Plant Breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Ronnie’s work has been important to the development of improved rice varieties grown on several million hectares throughout the world. He has collaborated extensively with institutions in the developing world and has served as a board member for several international institutes, including the West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA). Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Applications (ISAAA), and the Council of Advisors of the World Food Prize. His Ph.D. is from Cornell University and undergraduate work was done at the University of Kentucky, his home state.
Ronnie served as a member of the international assessment team that selected the University of Ghana Legon as the host institution for WACCI.
Mark D. Laing, Director, African Centre for Crop Improvement, KwaZulu Natal University
Mark D. Laing is a professor and Chair of Plant Pathology and presently the Director of the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, after which WACCI was modelled.
Mark is an accomplished agriculturalist. He has successfully served as the Director of the ACCI since its inception in 2003.
Mark holds a PhD (Epidemiology) and a BSc (Plant Pathology) from the University of KwaZulu Natal.
Rufaro Madakadze, Education and Training Officer, AGRA
Dr Rufaro Madakadze is a program officer for education and training in the Program for Africa’s Seed System of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The aim of the Education for African Crop Improvement (EACI) initiative is to alleviate the human capital capacity constraint to increasing farmer productivity and profitability in Africa imposed by the very limited number of plant breeders needed to develop and popularize new, higher-yielding, locally adapted crop varieties.
Rufaro is a horticultural scientist trained in Michigan State University (USA) and the University of Guelph, Ontario (Canada). She has taught crop sciences at the University of Zululand, South Africa and the University of Zimbabwe for 18 years and has mentored over 10 post graduate students. She was the head of the Department of Crop Science at the University of Zimbabwe for 3 years from 2002 to 2004. She has served as an external examiner to several universities and post graduate student theses in east and southern Africa including Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania) and Africa University (Zimbabwe), University of Nairobi (Kenya) and University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa).
She has sat on the Agriculture Panel of the National Research Foundation (an institution that supports most of the research in South Africa) evaluating proposals for funding. She is also a member of the CTA Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for Afican, Carribean and Pacific (ACP) countries and is currently on the planning committee of the African Crop Science Society. Dr Madakadze has worked on various projects in Horticultural Sciences that included under and post graduate students, commercial and smallholder farmers supported by DFID, EU, UNU/INRA and the Rockefeller Forum Foundation.
Vernon Gracen, Associate Director, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement, University of Ghana
Prof. Gracen is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University. He teaches an introductory course in Plant Breeding and manages curriculum development for the Cornell Transnational Learning Program which has cooperative projects with the Center for Agricultural Biotechnology (CAB) in Thailand, the African Center for Crop Improvement (ACCI) at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and the West Africa Center for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana in Legon. He is also serving as Associate Director for WACCI and spends 6 months per year in Ghana.
He joined Cornell University as an Assistant Professor in Plant Breeding and Biometry in 1970 and moved through the ranks of Associate and Full Professor.
Vern holds a PhD (Agronomy) from the University of Florida, and a BSc in Education from Georgia Southern College. His research interests were in the areas of breeding for disease and insect resistance in maize and cassava.