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In Memory of Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes

North Dakota Foundation Seedstocks assistant director Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes passed away October 22, 2018 in Fargo, ND. He had worked at North Dakota State University 15 years.
In Memory of Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes

Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes

October 26, 2018

North Dakota Foundation Seedstocks assistant director Gonzalo Rojas-Cifuentes passed away October 22, 2018 in Fargo, ND. He had worked at North Dakota State University 15 years.

Rojas-Cifuentes earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at NDSU in crop production and plant breeding/genetics, respectively, advised by former NDSU potato breeder Richard Novy. He was hired in 2003 as a postdoctoral research fellow in the dry bean breeding program, where he was part of a small team that carried on the program during a five-year gap before current dry bean breeder Juan Osorno was hired. In 2009, he became the assistant director for the North Dakota Foundation Seedstocks program, working with directors Dale Williams and Steve Sebesta. He was instrumental in the coordination and management of the seed distribution programs. He also taught a NDSU Plant Sciences course in seed production and technology.

Rojas-Cifuentes and his wife, Viviana Rivera, are natives of Chile, and they had not planned to stay in the U.S. more than three years. However, after living in the U.S. 19 years, they were proud to earn their U.S. citizenship in 2012. “I am proud to be Chilean by birth and American by choice,” said Rojas-Cifuentes at the time.

In May 2018, he was awarded the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award for contributing over 350 hours of volunteer work in Guinea, West Africa in September 2017. The award recognizes Americans who engage in volunteer service and inspire others to do so. Rojas-Cifuentes provided training for faculty and students at the Institute Superior of Agronomy and Veterinary of Faranah, Guinea’s only agricultural university. The objective of the training was to present information about plant breeding and selection for yield, diseases, submergence tolerance, quality and taste in rice, which is a staple food in Guinea. “This was a fantastic experience,” he said. “It made me appreciate what we take for granted in our lives.”

With his easy smile and cheerful nature, he made friends wherever he went. He will be missed by many.

A memorial service was held October 25, 2018 in Fargo. A memorial is also planned in his home country.

The full obituary is at http://boulgerfuneralhome.com/obituaries/gonzalo-rojas-cifuentes/.

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