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George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award

This citation honors distinguished College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement or leadership in making significant, influential, or innovative contributions to society. Selection is made by the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

This award was established in 2005 and is presented annually during Iowa State University’s Homecoming Weekend. Click here for the nomination form. Nominations are due the third Tuesday in November.

2021 George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Awardee

Rachel Chikwamba (’02 PhD genetics)
Pretoria, South Africa

Rachel Chikwamba headshot

A Zimbabwe native, Rachel Chikwamba is a highly regarded expert in innovation, making global impacts in the fields of agriculture, health, chemicals, and the environment.

As group executive and vice president for chemicals, agriculture, food, and health at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa, Chikwamba leads the council’s strategies for research, development, and innovation to improve economic competitiveness and innovation.

A classically trained plant geneticist, Chikwamba sought out further education and experiences to expand her horizons, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Zimbabwe, master’s degree from the University of Queensland, doctoral degree from Iowa State University, and her MBA from the University of Pretoria.

Prior to her time at CSIR, Chikwamba worked in a variety of research capacities, where her work has been published in several scholarly journals. She’s managed numerous research projects, including a sorghum nutritional fortification program, with support and grants from notable sources like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Union Framework programs. She has also taught applied plant biotechnology at the University of Pretoria and was an honorary research fellow at St. George’s Hospital at the University of London.

Chikwamba has provided support to Africa’s leadership on how to responsibly implement emerging technologies and actively engages with governments on policies for responsible integration and implementation. Additionally, Chikwamba serves as an expert on several boards, committees, and panels including the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth System Sciences, South African Medical Research Council, and African Union Panel on Emerging Technologies. She is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Past Recipients