Prof. Paul Gibson
Experience & Activities
Throughout my adult life and professional career, my passion has been to use plant breeding to relieve hunger and suffering in needy places. Over the last 40 years this desire has led me (and my wife, Pauline) to live and work in India, Costa Rica, Zambia, Ukraine, and now Uganda, where we have spent the last 12 years. My work has involved research, university teaching, and graduate student training in applied plant breeding, focusing especially on applied quantitative genetics, experimental design and data analysis. The students who have received such training through Makerere University’s regional graduate program for plant breeding since 2008 represent more than 20 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, and their research projects have addressed over 20 food crops that are important to their own nation.
During the past 12 years, as an instructor in Makerere University’s graduate program in plant breeding, I have been able to address God’s personal call to use plant breeding to meet issues of food security globally, my lifelong passion. Following a BSc and MSc at Texas A&M University, the research for my Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics (with a minor in statistics) was conducted at ICRISAT (India) on the inheritance of resistance to shoofly in sorghum. My wife and I then moved to Costa Rica (for 4 months as an agronomist), followed by working for 4 years in Zambia (maize breeder under USAID, working in the national program), 12 years at Southern Illinois University (lecturing & soybean research), and 8 years in Ukraine (faculty mentor, guest lecturer) before transferring to Uganda in 2008.
My primary responsibilities at Makerere University have been to teach (Plant Breeding, Mendelian and Quantitative Genetics, Statistics, and basic Molecular Biology), guide student thesis research, provide direction to MaRCCI’s cowpea and sorghum breeding programs, and serve as a principal contributor to the Plant Breeding E-learning in Africa curriculum (PBEA) that is spearheaded by Iowa State University. My goal is to help Makerere University’s Regional Center for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI) to become the most effective institution in Africa for training plant breeders who are well-equipped to develop farmer-preferred varieties that meet value-chain needs, are widely adopted, reduce poverty and enhance both livelihoods and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We have three children. Our daughter. Prema, lives in Southern Illinois with her husband, son and daughter. Nathan, our older son, with his wife and son, works at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, teaching and doing research in digital cataloguing of ancient Semitic languages. His twin brother, Stephan and wife are both veterinarians, living in East Asia with their two young sons.