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Dr. Usha Zehr

Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Private Limited (Mahyco)
Chief Technology Officer
Dr. Usha Zehr is the Chief Technology Officer at the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), one of the leading agri-biotech companies in India. She has played a pivotal role in various innovations and technology applications in agriculture, especially hybrid seeds and biotech crops. She was instrumental in bringing India’s first biotech crop Bt cotton in 2002 which has transformed the Indian cotton sector and positioned the country as the largest producer of cotton in the world. She also played a major role in the introduction of Bt brinjal/eggplant in Bangladesh with partners, a crop that is changing the lives of eggplant farmers. Her work with health and education in India supports the desire to improve lives in rural communities where one small innovation in agriculture can impact millions of lives.

From 1991 to 1996, Dr. Zehr served as a Geneticist at Purdue University, studying sorghum and millet. Prior to that she served as Researcher at the University of Illinois from 1983 to 1990 where her research interests focused on the application of plant biotechnology for improving agricultural production. During her graduate and post-graduate studies, she worked in the area of tissue culture and transformation. Her group at the University of Illinois was the first to develop a system for soybean regeneration. As a result of her work at Purdue University, the first transgenic sorghum plant was produced. Dr.Zehr received her Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987.