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Sustainable farming pioneer wins Bullitt Prize

Bullitt Environmental Prize winner Cornelius Adewale sifts soil in his laboratory. The third WSU winner of the prize in the past six years, Adewale is advised by Associate Professor Lynne Carpenter-Boggs (Seth Truscott/WSU Photo).

Cornelius Adewale, doctoral student and sustainable agriculture pioneer at Washington State University’s School of the Environment, is the winner of the 11th Annual Bullitt Environmental Prize, the Bullitt Foundation announced today.

The Bullitt Prize recognizes people with extraordinary potential to become powerful and effective leaders in the environmental movement.

Adewale’s research focuses on improving the environmental impact of agriculture. He is developing tools farmers can use to evaluate farming practices, so they can store more carbon, reduce chemical fertilizers, and produce more food.

“Without food in their bellies, people have no time for anything else,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation and first national organizer of Earth Day in 1970. “Cornelius is working at the leading edge of research to find ways to produce more food, even as we fight climate change and dramatically reduce the use of pesticides,” he added.

“My grandmother taught me to think big,” Adewale said. “The Bullitt Prize offers me the chance to expand my work to a global scale.”

Raised by his grandmother in rural Nigeria, Adewale turned down a safe job with a steady income to pursue his dreams. After building a successful organic farm outside of Lagos with just $20, he came to Washington State University – home to the first academic major in organic agriculture.

“I am trying to change the way we farm,” said Adewale.

“Cornelius’ work is exactly the type of forward-thinking research we’ve come to measure our college by,” said Ron Mittelhammer, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “He’s an example of how to overcome obstacles, think globally and create positive impacts—this recognition is well-deserved.”

The 2017 Bullitt Prize is being presented to Adewale at an awards banquet in Seattle. Winners receive $100,000 over two years to advance their research.

Adewale is the third WSU recipient of the Bullitt Environmental Prize in the past six years. View a list of winners at http://www.bullitt.org/programs/environmental-fellowship/.

  • Learn more about the Bullitt Foundation here.
  • Learn more about the WSU School of the Environment here.