We bid farewell to Alba Lucía Chaves

This text is about a great scientist retiring from CIAT after working as a chemist at the Agrobiodiversity Area for 28 years. Here is the part of her life story spent in this beautiful campus.

Por Sylvia Pineda| Nov 25, 2019



She vibrates in her daily life and she does it as one of the most joyful representatives of her native Nariño. She graduated from high school and her high standardized-test score granted her a scholarship to study in Russia, but her parents did not allow her to go; thus she decided to be a scientist in Colombia.

She holds a degree from the University of Nariño and a Master’s degree from the University of Valle. She has been shaping her life of service since she was 13 years old, when she carried out her practicum as a normal-school teacher, then as a professor at the University of Valle, and then as a researcher at CIAT.


Being part of this organization and being able to make a small contribution to its wonderful mission has been an honor. Time goes by so quickly and it was a fascinating journey in which I felt like being suspended in the magical space represented by CIAT, its science, and the learning experience from excellent people who positively transformed my life. I thank Jorge Mayer, William Roca, Joe Tohme, Idupulapati M. Rao, Manabu Ishitani, Michael Gómez, and Hernán Ceballos, because they inspired me to work with passion, discipline and excellence. Each one of them was a teacher who crossed my path and to whom I am grateful for being there.

Alba Lucia


Main challenges

Alba Lucía Chaves feels privileged for the opportunities she had during her time at CIAT, where she stands out for participating in the early beginnings of the HarvestPlus project, in which she standardized methodologies to quantify carotenoids in elite lines of the Cassava Breeding Program. Similarly, she studied the post-harvest nutrient retention capacity and bioavailability of nutrients, which contributed to improve the nutrition of populations around the globe.

Dr. Manabu Ishitani, Alba Lucía’s supervisor for 15 years, gave her the opportunity to face major challenges, such as the design and construction of the first moving greenhouses at CIAT. “We had to plant rainfed rice, something theoretically impossible due to soil pH, but we managed it, and nowadays, the Center has four moving greenhouses and projects that will help to provide solutions to farmers and producers,” said Alba Lucía.

This scientist from Nariño also took part in a project with Japan on “Development and adoption of a low-input rice production system for Latin America, through genetic improvement and advanced technologies for crop management”, SATREPS. This project represented a chance for her to learn and train with Japanese scientists. 

Her main achievement has been taking up and facing the challenges and needs required by research and life in general. This led her to stand out as a responsible, optimistic collaborator devoted to her work and highly disciplined.

“Closing this stage of my life, I feel a cascade of emotions. I will miss my gorgeous lab, the campus, the people, and that nice energy of the CIAT family. It has been an honor to take part of the history of this organization. Now the challenge rests on the young generation, who in this transformation process shall start writing the chapter of greatness of the Center,” concluded Alba Lucía.

Thank you, Albita, for 28 years of contributions to the organization. They have left a positive mark among peers and colleagues.

Thank you, Albita, for...

Being my mother at CIAT. You took me in as a biology student. With love, you taught me to put scientific rigor into practice and to work in a team. You gave us everything; now it is only fair you devote yourself to your family.
I am infinitely grateful to you and you can always count on me!
Jacobo Arango 

Your passion and eagerness to engage and make a contribution in all topics of interest and common good. We will miss you. Hugs.
Maribel Cruz

Everything we lived through and shared, dear Albita. I certainly learned a lot from you. Our hearts and minds will be with you. Now that you have concluded this stage of your life, I know great things are coming for you. I wish you the best and I send you my good vibes. I strongly hug you and wish you every success!
Milton Valencia Ortiz

Because you are and will continue being full of that entrepreneurial spirit and wisdom, despite the obstacles that life puts in our way, you have always been able to overcome them happily.
Carlos Toro

“Good, if brief, is twice as good”, the saying goes, and Alba Lucía is the best example of that. Alba Lucía is characterized by her TREMENDOUS ENTHUSIASM for each activity we started; her CONVICTION FOR EXCELLENCE in what we were doing, her pursuit of QUALITY AND RELIABILITY of data and that ETERNAL SMILE she brought to us every day. It has been a privilege and a pleasure working with her. 
Hernán Ceballos