Ms. Genoveva ‘Eves’ Loresto passed away in Cebu on 5 April after a long battle with cancer.
In 2000, Eves retired after 37 years of outstanding, long, and valuable service to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Her many contributions to the well-being of the Institute and the awards she received are too numerous to recount. She was ever-willing to share her experience with colleagues. She will be missed by her many friends and former colleagues.
Eves joined IRRI in January 1963 (less than three years after the institute had been founded) as a Student Assistant in Plant Breeding, and rose through the ranks over the years to the position of Senior Associate Scientist in 1994 in the TT Chang Genetic Resources Center (GRC). In May 1997, she was appointed as Project Scientist and Assistant Coordinator of the SDC-funded project Safeguarding and Preservation of the Biodiversity of the Rice Genepool. Throughout her career at IRRI, she trained more than 400 national program staff in different aspects of germplasm conservation and use.
For many years, Eves worked as assistant to the late Dr TT Chang in upland rice breeding, conducting studies on drought tolerance and developing methodologies involving patterns of root development to screen germplasm for drought. She was a member of the team that bred the upland rice variety Makiling that was released in 1990.
When I joined IRRI in July 1991 I had been set a major goal by IRRI management to bring about significant changes to the operations of the International Rice Genebank (International Rice Germplasm Center as it was called then) and, with the creation of the Genetic Resources Center, the whole field of genetic resources conservation received a much higher profile in the institute and internationally. After a period of observation and analysis, it became clear to me that the changes needed could be made if we had a flatter management structure in GRC, with individual members of staff given responsibility and accountability for the different genebank operations, such as germplasm multiplication, characterization, and conservation per se, shown in this short video.
This is what we did, but it left me with the issue of how best to employ Eves’ considerable experience and expertise since other staff took on the genebank operations.
I asked Eves to take a broader strategic responsibility, and act as a liaison with many of our national partners. Once we received financial support through the SDC-funded biodiversity project, Eves moved into a project management role, helping to monitor progress as well taking a major role in training. In particular, she was responsible for conducting training courses on rice germplasm collection and conservation in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, and Vietnam. Her involvement in these activities was invaluable and much appreciated by those who participated.
We certainly felt a gap in the GRC team when Eves retired in 2000. It would have been very difficult for me to make the needed changes to GRC and successfully wrap-up the biodiversity project without Eves’ support. And for that I shall forever remain grateful to her.