Blog “El profe” who implemented tissue culture procedures and techniques

Roosevelt Escobar has been at the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT for 34 years; he holds a degree in Biology and Chemistry from Santiago de Cali University.

Since he joined the organization, he has been involved in the development and tailoring of tissue culture procedures and techniques within the Biotechnology Program. The resulting methods have helped make these techniques available for students and smallholders using a minimum number of inputs and self-made equipment.

One of the key initiatives led by Roosevelt for cassava was in vitro propagation at farm level – one of many “tissue culture” applications to ensure farmers can access disease-free planting material, including virus-free varieties of interest adapted to their environment – allowing them to obtain a fair return on their efforts.

Applying propagation techniques and having access to clean material from the Future Seeds genebank, it is possible to offer farmers clean and high-yielding planting material, with the certainty that: (1) plants are disease-free; (2) they correspond to the clone or variety needed in the production area; (3) confusion or mixing varieties is avoided; and (4) a massive, quick, and efficient propagation program is implemented for one single plant material. 

Roosevelt developed the in vitro propagation technique, he has also engaged in training the young researchers who have joined the cassava tissue culture and cryopreservation laboratory during their academic education, either through training courses, thesis work, or internships. 

He is one of the pioneers of the Alliance’s Biotechnology in the Classroom and Bio-apprentice Programs, which aim to encourage youth from urban and rural educational institutions to take Biotechnology into their classrooms, engage with their classmates, and promote its science-based use and knowledge in their institutions.  

El Profe [short for Professor in Spanish], as he is known by many of his students, has taken science and technology to public and rural schools, successfully transferring his knowledge in a simple, clear, and passionate way, inspiring youth to fall in love with science, thus making an impact in their personal lives and professional careers. 

Thank you, profe Roosevelt!

Interesting facts about el profe:

Who do you admire in the field of science and why?

When I was a kid, I was fond of Carl Sagan and Jacques Cousteau. I was also fond of Dr.  Rodolfo Llinás, a Colombian neurophysiologist, for his work and achievements in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Llinás tries to decipher the whys and suggests that science could contribute to the development of a country and its capacity to defend itself. He is a very sharp critic of the Colombian education system.

Because of my educational background, in pedagogy-related topics, I follow some blogs and science communicators. Ciencia, Café Pa´ Sumercé, the Argentinian Diego Golombek, and the Spaniard Miguel Ángel Lurueña the Gominolas de Petróleo blog.

One of the goals of sharing science is to enable the youth and general public to experience science so they can see and feel it as something interesting to do and read about, and in particular, to help them understand their surroundings. Regarding education, it should aim to help youth understand and incorporate learnings into a context.