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The Boyce Thompson Institute Announces First Female President

The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) announced Silvia Restrepo, plant pathologist and microbiologist, as its next president according to a release. Restrepo will be BTI’s ninth president and its first female president. The position begins in October where she will succeed David Stern, who has held the presidential role since 2004. BTI will celebrate its centennial in 2024.

Dr. Silvia Restrepo (Source: Boyce Thompson Institute)

“We are thrilled to welcome Silvia to BTI. Her extensive experience and numerous accomplishments in experimental plant science and scientific leadership align perfectly with BTI’s mission,” said Stern. “She will be an inspirational leader who will propel BTI researchers and staff to new heights of discovery and impact.”

Restrepo is currently the vice president for research and creation at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. There she is also a professor in the chemical and food department. She was previously a dean of the school of sciences and head of the biological sciences department.

Restrepo was born in Bogotá and lived in France and New York before returning to Colombia. She is well known to be innovative and has developed interdisciplinary and inclusive research programs.

“With her distinguished track record in research, education, and leadership, Silvia is the perfect fit to lead BTI into its next century,” said Greg Galvin, BTI’s chair of the board of directors. “Her focus on neglected diseases and crops aligns seamlessly with our mission to increase food security, improve environmental sustainability in agriculture, and enhance human health.”

Having a PhD from the University of the Sciences Pierre and Marie Currie, Paris VI, in Paris, Restrepo’s research has been distinguished with awards including the Elizabeth Grose Prize, the Third World Academy of Sciences Award to young scientists, the Prize from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, the Merit Ordre from the French Government and the Jakob Eriksson Prize from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

“Silvia is an outstanding scientist, leader, and innovator who will bring to BTI extensive strategic planning experience, a background in leading and managing diverse teams, a pioneering scientific career in plant pathology, and a connection to an international network of leaders,” said Paul Chomet, vice chair of BTI’s board of directors and chair of the search committee.

During her time in Ithaca, Restrepo worked at Cornell postdoctoral associate and then as a research associate in William Fry’s and Christine Smart’s laboratories. She also met her husband and had her son during her time there.

“BTI is a world-class institution with a rich history of discovery,” said Restrepo. “I am deeply honored to assume the role of president, particularly as the first woman to hold this position, and am eager to contribute to BTI’s mission of advancing plant and life sciences and training the next generation of scientists.”