All about Eves . . .

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.

Eves training Bhutanese staff in rice collecting

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.

Were we that restless?

I have just finished reading a very entertaining book, The Restless Generation by Pete Frame (see my 5 April post). The sub-title is How rock music changed the face of 1950s Britain. It’s definitely worth a read if you get chance – I left the important book information in the other post, at the end.

Pete Frame discusses the roots of rock music in Britain during the mid- to late-1950s, the personalities involved, and the development of the various music genres – and the opposition to and lack of understanding of this music by the powers that be in the BBC and the music recording industry. It’s also interesting to know how few (of the thousands) of young men (and just a handful of women) who took up the guitar actually ever made a success in show business. And to a certain extent the book relates how they were exploited by the industry.

The traditional jazz revival, spear-headed by Ken Colyer and Chris Barber really lies at the roots of skiffle music in Britain, and its further evolution into rock ‘n’ roll. Barber in particular has to be credited with bringing over to the UK many American black musicians who had a rhythm and blues background, especially from delta blues as they developed into southern Chicago blues. Rock music (and the recording of music) was way ahead in the USA. Early rock musicians in the USA had access to recording studios and instruments (such as the Fender Stratocaster, for example) which were just not available in the UK. And, more importantly, record producers who understood the music.

Skiffle (headed by Lonnie Donegan) led to rock ‘n’ roll, to folk, to the blues, alongside the continuation of jazz of course. In the USA the evolution moved towards bluegrass as well.

Famous rock singers in the UK were Tommy Steele (featured on the book cover), Marty Wilde, Cliff Richard and Billy Fury.

But what’s also interesting is how the various musicians moved back and forth between groups, constantly falling out, making up, moving on – and sometimes achieving fame. And another thing – how young many of them were when they started, only 15 or 16 in some cases.

But don’t take my word for it. Go and find a copy of The Restless Generation, and have yourself a good read. You won’t be disappointed.