CIP welcomes PhD students and post-doctoral researchers in crop genetic resources

Ahipa – recovering a lost Inca crop

Bettina Heider joined CIP in 2009 as a post-doctoral researcher focusing on a largely unknown, Amazonian legume root called ahipa, which goes by the name the Incas gave to this highly nutritious and versatile crop. Her work revolves around collecting, conserving and breeding ahipa varieties in Peru’s Amazon region where the crop is disappearing and facing genetic erosion. Today she is a full-time staff member at CIP, where she leads the Ahipa Project.

“The job description sounded like an adventure trip – germplasm collecting in the Amazon of Peru,” says Bettina. “But what really attracted me was the opportunity to work with this particular legume species. As a plant physiologist by training, and a plant genetic resources specialist by specialization, I have a soft spot for the distinct features of legume species and their important role in ecosystem functioning and nutrition.”

The objective of the Ahipa Project is to offer new cropping solutions to Amazonian communities and other smallholder farmers around the world. Or, as Bettina notes: “In short, ahipa is an untapped crop, ready to promoting climate-smart agriculture.”

A positive environment for young researchers

image_mini“Migration, relocation and repatriation are life processes experienced by both seeds and people – like in my case,” explains Alejandra Arce, a PhD student from the University of Antioquia, Colombia, who has returned to Peru after living abroad for 20 years.

Alejandra’s PhD research seeks to assess Solanum tuberosum infraspecific diversity at farm- and community-level, patterns of diversity within and among communities, and degrees of access to diversity through seed system networks in two regions with contrasting agro-ecologies.

“The cooperative spirit among scientists and professionals at CIP’s Genetic Resources program,” she says, “has enabled me to take great strides in my research questions and field work in a relatively short time. Novel approaches to crop genetic resources research such as field mapping (participatory GIS), teamwork and a synergistic collaboration, all foster the kind of environment and dynamism that motivates young researchers like us to take on the challenge of addressing increasingly complex and multidisciplinary issues in a globalized world.”

The focus of CIP’s Genetic Resources program is on the worldwide conservation, evaluation, biosystematics and ethnobotany of potatoes, sweet potatoes, Andean roots and tuber crops where genetic diversity and traditional use of these crops is important.

Interested in joining CIP as a PhD student or post- doctoral researcher?

Please contact: Stef de Haan, Head of Genetic Resources Skype: red.innovacion.papa Tel: +51-1-3496017 (ext. 3056) email: