Rony Swennen, was a Honorary Research Fellow on Musa Genetic Improvement at Bioversity International since 1995 and joined Bioversity International in 2013 as banana genetic resources specialist.
He is the representative of Bioversity International in Belgium and responsible for the International Transit Centre of Banana, assisted by a curator and senior scientist and several technicians. Here more than 1400 Musa accessions are conserved and this genetic material is shipped as proliferating cultures, rooted plantlets or lyophilized leaves. So far, more than 100 countries have benefitted from this operation with impact on more banana research and farmers' yield.
Rony joined IITA, a CGIAR center, as a plantain physiologist in 1979. He started the plantain research activities at the Onne station, became associate scientist (1982), research coordinator (1985) and plantain agronomist-breeder, research leader on plantain (1987-1990).
During that period he collected many banana and plantain varieties, laying the foundation of the International Transit Centre. His team developed the first Black Sigatoka resistant plantains that received the International King Baudouin award. He returned to KUL Leuven and rose to Senior lecturer (1990), Associate Professor (1991), Professor (1994), and Full Professor (1997) at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, KU Leuven, Belgium.
PhD Plant physiology, at KU Leuven, Belgium (1984)
Member of several scientific committees of international conferences, Associated member of the "Académie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer", editor of several books and proceedings, 6 international awards
Swennen R. and Vuylsteke D., 1993. 'Breeding Black Sigatoka resistant plantains with a wild banana'. Tropical Agriculture 70 (1):74-77.
Sági L., Panis B., Remy S., Schoofs H., De Smet K., Swennen R. and Cammue B. P. A., 1995. 'Genetic transformation of banana and plantain (Musa spp.) via particle bombardment'. Bio-Technology 13:481-485.