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Dr. Nigist Asfaw and Dr. Sebsebe Demissew

"Aromatic Plants, People and Sustainable Use: The Ethiopian Experience"

Nigist Asfaw and Sebsebe Demissew

Wednesday, Oct 26, 7:00 p.m.
Freed Center for the Performing Arts

ONU will welcome Drs. Sebsebe Demissew and Nigist Asfaw to campus for the  Distinguished Keiser Lectures in Life Sciences from Oct. 26-28. Demissew is director of the National Herbarium of Ethiopia and professor of plant taxonomy and biodiversity at Addis Ababa University. Asfaw is assistant professor of chemistry and is credited with bringing green chemistry to Ethiopia. As ethnobotanists, they have co-authored the book Aromatic Plants of Ethiopia, which includes discussions of plants used for spices and medicinal purposes.

Also, don't miss:

Thursday, Oct 27, 7:00: HPPEC 151:  Sigma Xi lecture:  Sebsebe Demissew, "Global Biodiversity Hotspots in the Horn of Africa and Plant Resource Potentials"


Dr. Sebsebe Demissew received his Bachelor of Science in general biology and his Master of Science in botany from Addis Ababa University. He earned a Ph.D. in systematic botany from Uppsala University (Sweden). He has held faculty positions in the botany department at Addis Ababa University from 1977 to the present. He also served as dean of the Faculty of Science from 1996 to 2000. His work in biodiversity spans more than three decades, and, since 1996, he has been leader of the Ethiopian Flora Project, which was successfully completed in 2009. His work includes documentation of the flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea, including the use of plants by indigenous communities. He also has participated in biodiversity studies in other African countries, including Usambara in Tanzania, Mefou and Mount Kupe in Cameroon, Weichaw in Ghana, Cape Region in South Africa, and Kibale Forest in Uganda. His work engages him in understanding the causes and effects of changes in the environment, with a main focus on natural resources.

Dr. Nigist Asfaw received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organic chemistry from Addis Ababa University and her Ph.D. in organic chemistry (natural products chemistry) from the University of Oslo (Norway). She has been on the faculty in the department of chemistry at Addis Ababa University since 2002. Before this, she was head of research and quality at the Ethiopian Spice Extraction Factory. She also has been a chemist for the soil laboratory and the plant protection laboratory for the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and for the Ministry of industry. Asfaw’s interests and research are the isolation and structure elucidation of natural products from indigenous aromatic and medicinal plants, essential oils, green/sustainable chemistry, and renewable feed stocks.