Colombian biologist won the Jakob Eriksson Prize, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Silvia Restrepo is currently the vice-rector for Research and Creation at the Universidad de los Andes.  Photo: University of the Andes
Silvia Restrepo is currently the vice-rector for Research and Creation at the Universidad de los Andes. Photo: University of the Andes

In recent days, the news was released that the Colombian scientist Silvia Restrepo will be recognized with the Jacob Eriksson Award, in its 100th edition, which is awarded to members of the scientific community in the area of ​​plant pathology.

The award, created by in 1923, in memory of the outstanding Swedish mycologist and plant pathologist Jakob Eriksson, is administered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences together with the Fund of the same name of the award, and so far it has given recognition to a total of 12 scientists, of which only one has been a woman. Restrepo will be the second and the 13th to obtain the award, which will be presented to her at a ceremony, within the framework of the International Congress of Plant Pathology, in Lyon, France, in August 2023, which is part of the meeting of the International Society for Plant Pathology, which is carried out once a year.

Silvia Restrepo is vice-rector for Research and Creation at the Universidad de Los Andes, and full professor at the same institution. She graduated as a biologist, right there, and was director of the Department of Biological Sciences and dean of the Faculty of Sciences. She has a doctorate in Plant Pathology from the Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris VI, and a master’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the same institution.

His work has been oriented to the investigation of bacterial infections of cassava, caused by the Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. Manihotis. His doctoral thesis focused on the development and application of molecular markers to understand the structure of the population in question and its evolution. She has been the first scientist dedicated to it. During the process, he helped several cassava producers to create varieties of the same to resist the pathogen, which considerably reduced its presence and, therefore, the losses of farmers in various areas of the continent, who were in the obligation, year after year, to burn their crops.

He did his post-doctorate at Cornell University, where he focused on microbiology and the study of diseases caused by Phytophthora and its devastating impact on solanaceous crops in different parts of the world. She has been recognized for her contributions to the understanding of the specifications of plant pathogenic fungi and oomycetes.

Restrepo has participated in large-scale projects in collaboration with the Laboratoire Mixte Internacional, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, research groups from Ecuador and France, and the Research Councils-United Kingdom. In these projects, the Colombian scientist stood out for her good management in the coordination of different areas of scientific research, the organization of teams and co-creation opportunities, and the management of experience to move on different disciplinary and cultural fronts.

He created a Digital Humanities laboratory at the Universidad de Los Andes and designed a Specialization program in Bioinformatics. One of his most important works is that of “Phytophthora betaceia new species associated with tree tomato crops”, since “the detailed description of the species guided the efforts to control this devastating disease”, explained the university in a statement.

According to the award website, this recognition will be given to the Colombian “for her pioneering work at the international level in mycology and plant pathology, focused on diseases that affect cassava and potato crops.”

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