WIT Award Year: 2018
Organization: Cornell University
Meriem developed a curiosity and passion for wheat on her grandfather’s field and dreamed of a day when she could make difference in the lives of farmers. Meriem got her bachelor degree in agricultural engineering at the Agronomic Institute of Chott Meriem, Tunisia, then completed her Master's in Genetics and Plant Biotechnology at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece. She pursued her PhD in Plant Pathology at North Dakota State University (NDSU), USA. Mentored by Dr. Maricelis Acevedo, a former WIT winner, Meriem phenotyped a worldwide collection of durum wheat landraces and breeding lines to several international races of leaf and stem rust pathogens. After earning her PhD in December 2016, Meriem continued her research on durum wheat diseases joining the Durum Wheat Genetics and Breeding Program at NDSU as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for a year. Working under the supervision of Dr. Elias, she applied both conventional and molecular breeding techniques toward the release of resistant durum varieties to rusts and Fusarium head blight. Meriem recently joined Dr. Rebecca Nelson’s lab at Cornell University to research on maize pathology to mitigate the effects of ear rot pathogens on both crop yield and human health.