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Prof. Douglas Watuku Miano is an Associate Professor at the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, University of Nairobi. He holds a Ph.D degree (Plant Virology) which he attained in May 2008 from Louisiana State University, USA. He also holds MSc. in Plant Pathology (1999) and BSc. Agriculture (1995) degrees, both from the University of Nairobi. He is an accomplished scholar with proven track record in training, agricultural research and publications. He has over 10 years’ experience in research project management and has held different leadership positions at the University and in community service. He is focused on providing leadership and skills in development and responsible use of modern biotechnology in sub-Saharan Africa.
Prof. Miano has been working at the Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection since 2009, initially on part-time basis (2009 – 2011), then as full time lecturer on permanent employment (2011 – 2014), as a Senior Lecturer (2014 -2019) and as an Associate Professor (October 2019 to date). He has been teaching plant virology, plant biotechnology, seed legislation and accreditation, principles of crop protection, postharvest pests and diseases, general microbiology, and other plant pathology and crop protection courses to graduate and undergraduate students. Before joining UoN, Prof. Miano worked as a Senior Research Scientist at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute’s (KARI) Biotechnology Center (now Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, KALRO) situated at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) campus in Nairobi.
Prof. Miano is an accomplished researcher, scholar, trainer and leader. He is actively involved in research activities particularly in cassava, maize, sweetpotato, beans, and pepper virus diagnostics, characterization and management. He is the Kenyan Principal Investigator in the development of transgenic cassava with resistance to viruses under the Virus Resistant and Nutritionally Enhanced Cassava for Africa (VIRCA Plus) project. Through the VIRCA Plus project, Prof. Miano has ably led a team of Kenyan scientists, in collaboration with regional and international scientists, to successfully develop a transgenic cassava with high levels of resistance to cassava brown streak disease, a major threat to cassava production in the region. He was also one of the lead scientists in the East African region who identified and developed strategies to manage maize lethal necrosis (MLN) disease, which had also emerged as a new threat to maize production in the region. He was a member of the taskforce appointed by the Kenya government to identify the causal agents of MLN in Kenya and come up with ways to manage the disease, and the Principal Investigator in a regional ASARECA funded project on ‘Integrated Management of Maize Lethal Necrosis in Eastern and Central Africa’ that covered seven countries and eleven collaborating institutions. Prof. Miano had also spent three months in 2009 at the Food and Environmental Research Agency (FERA, UK) participating in sequencing and development of diagnostic assays for viruses causing cassava brown streak disease. He has been involved in several other research projects in different aspects of plant virology, plant pathology, crop protection, plant biotechnology, and other fields of agriculture, in collaboration with national, regional and international scientists.
Apart from formal training and research in agricultural sciences, Prof. Miano has trained widely and gained a lot of experience in science communications, biosafety and regulatory issues in the management of genetically modified (GM) crops and other modern agricultural technologies. He is a biosafety expert for Kenya under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and has been involved in the international negotiations as a Kenyan delegate at the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2014, 2016 and 2018). He is also trained on Negotiation Skills and Techniques at international level under the United Nations Institute of Training and Research and African Union NEPAD Agency.
As a scholar and trainer, Prof. Miano has a track record in supervising and mentoring postgraduate students and early career scientists. He has successfully supervised and mentored over 20 graduate (PhD and Masters) students to completion, while others are currently at different levels of research and thesis writing. Numerous undergraduate and diploma students have also done and completed their special projects under his supervision. His academic and research career has also been exemplary as demonstrated by publications in peer review journals. He has co-authored over 140 journal and conference publications. He has attended and presented papers in numerous conferences and workshops. He has also won several scientific awards and recognitions including KARI Scientist of the Year Award in 2010-11. Prof. Miano is also an accomplished athlete with various awards in track and field events.
Prof. Miano’s leadership skills were honed early while still in high school where he was a school captain for two and a half years. He has served in various leadership positions in various levels at the University. On several occasions, he has acted as the Chairman of the Department. He has been the Coordinator of the Diploma Program (2014 to-date), and chair and member of different committees at the Department and Faculty. While at KALRO, he was the program leader in root and tuber crops research and plant disease diagnostics at the Biotechnology Centre.
Prof. Miano has been active in various societal leadership roles including serving as the member of the Board of Management, Kihuro Secondary School in Muranga County where he is also the chair of the academic committee (2017 to-date); Member of the Southern Nairobi Regional Council under the Fellowship of Christian Unions (FOCUS) where he also serves as the University and Faculty Engagement Coordinator (2018 to-date); Member of the Advisory Committee of Upper Kabete Campus Christian Union (2018 to-date); Member of the Steering Committee and Editorial Committee under the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture (FNSA) Report on Opportunities and Challenges for Research in Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture in Africa (2016-2018); Member of the National Biotechnology Development Policy Review Committee (2016-2017); and a Member of the Local Organizing Committee for the Workshop to Establish UK-East African Collaborations in Practical Synthetic Biology (2016–2017), among others. Prof. Miano also served as the President of the International Christian Fellowship (ICF) in Louisiana State University, USA (2005 – 2007) and the Chairman of the Graduate Fellowship at Upper Kabete Campus, UoN (1997-1998).
Overall, Prof. Miano has shown consistent leadership and has maintained a vibrant research and academic career marked by high quality publications and success in grant awards; a strong commitment to mentorship of undergraduate, post-graduate and early career scientists; and established and maintained national, regional and international collaborations that has helped him emerge as a strategic leader in agricultural sciences, modern biotechnology and biosafety.

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