Rajeev Varshney


  • The University of Western Australia (M082), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated using citation counts from Scopus for publications in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
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Personal profile


Rajeev Kumar Varshney is an agricultural scientist, specializing in genomicsgeneticsmolecular breeding and capacity building in developing countries. He is engaged in discovering, developing, and delivering innovative R&D solutions to tackle wicked problems facing global agriculture. Varsheny is currently the Research Program Director- Genetic Gains that includes several units viz. Genomics & Trait Discovery, Forward Breeding, Pre-Breeding, Cell, Molecular Biology & Genetic Engineering, Seed Systems, Biotechnology- ESA, Sequencing and Informatics Services Unit, and Genebank (until 2020); and Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics & Systems Biology at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a global agricultural research institute. He holds Adjunct/Honorary/Visiting Professor positions at 10 academic institutions in Australia, China, Ghana, Hong Kong and India, including The University of Western Australia,[1] University of Queensland, West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (University of Ghana), University of Hyderabad, Chaudhary Charan Singh University and Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University.

Dr. Varshney, in his research career spanning for >20 years, has made significant contributions to improving food security in Asia and Africa by creating and applying genomic resources in crop breeding for developing superior lines with stress tolerance and high nutrition and strengthening seed delivery system in major tropical crops. A highly prolific author and Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters/Clarivate Analytics for 7 consecutive years (2014-2020) in a row, Dr Varshney is an elected fellow to about 10 science and agriculture academies/ societies in India, Germany, USA, etc. and recipient of several noted awards including the most coveted science award, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, and the most prestigious agricultural science award, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award from Government of India and many more international recognitions.


Dr Varshney has made significant contributions to improving food security in Asia and Africa by creating genomic resources of major “orphan” tropical crops. He has developed and deployed DNA marker technologies for the identification of useful genetic variation in tropical crops. Varshney, together with his team, has used these resources and technologies to identify genetic loci/candidate genes for drought and pest tolerances in key staple crops for sub-Saharan Africa and India. He has initiated and led major international programs that are creating and delivering superior crop varieties to some of the world’s poorest farmers.

By serving several organizations in the science leadership/ management role for the past 13 years, Varshney has supervised large international teams (up to 200 members) representing a range of diversity in ethnicity, nationality and gender. In these roles, Varshney provided expertise in R&D management, product development, innovative ideas andpromoted inclusive culture and inter-disciplinary and collaborative research ecosystem to team members for high-performance to develop and realize their potential as teams and individuals. His leadership efforts have led mainstreaming of genomics in crop breeding programs at many institutes in several countries including India, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso



Dr varshney has been engaged in several international societies and organization to serve the international scientific community. Some of his notable engagements are:

  • since 2016 Elect Chair Genomics, Molecular Genetics & Biotechnology Division of Crop Science Society of America
  • 2015 Elected Member of Steering Committee of DivSeek
  • 2014 Member, Research Advisory Committee for Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres, Indian Council of Agricultural Research
  • since 2013 Member of Research Committee, Farm Research Committee, Emergency Management Team and Chair, Plant Material Identification Committee of ICRISAT
  • 2012 Member, Advisory Board, International School of Hyderabad
  • 2011 Member, Research Advisory Council for Tea Board of India (Ministry of Commerce, Government of India)  
  • 2011 Member, Research Advisory Committee for Central Sericultural Research & Training Institute, Silk Board of India (Ministry of Textiles, Government of India)
  • 2010 Served Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) of Ministry of Agriculture as an External Subject Matter Specialist for recruiting Senior Scientists in several ICAR institutes


Honors and Awards

Elected Fellow:

  • German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany, 2016
  • The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), 2016
  • American Association for Advancement in Sciences (AAAS), 2016
  • Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), 2015
  • American Society of Agronomy (ASA), 2018
  • Indian National Science Academy (INSA), 2013
  • Indian Academy of Sciences (IASc), 2019
  • National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), 2015
  • National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India (NAAS), 2010
  • Indian Society of Pulses Research and Development, 2019 (Honorary Fellow)
  • Arid Zone Research Association of India, 2019 (Honorary Fellow)
  • Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding, 2016


  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology by Government of India, 2015 (Honoured by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi). This award is dubbed as Nobel Prize of India
  • Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award, the top most agriculture science award from Government of India, 2020
  • Scientific and Technological Co-operation Award by Government of Guangdong Province China, 2020
  • GD Birla Award for Scientific Research by KK Birla Foundation, India, 2018
  • Prof. Lalji Singh Achievement Award by ADNAT, 2019
  • Prof Jayashankar Lifetime Achievement Award by Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agri Univ, 2019
  • JC Bose Fellowship for the outstanding performance from the Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, 2018
  • Certificate and Honor for Outstanding Science Contribution by Uttar Pradesh Government, 2018 (honoured by His Excellency, Governor and Hon’ble Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh, India)
  • One of the“40 Most Influential Foreign Experts” in the past 40 years of Shandong Province since the initiation of Reform and Opening Up policy by The Association for International Exchange of Talents in Shandong, Shandong International Talent Network, China, 2018
  • Outstanding Faculty Research Award by Carrers360, 2018 (honoured by Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India)
  • Qilu Friendship Award by People’s Government of Shandong Province, China, 2016
  • Doreen Margaret Mashler Award, the most prestigious ICRISAT award by ICRISAT Governing Board, 2016
  • Highly Cited Researcher by Thomson Reuters/ Clarivate Analytics, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014
  • Research Excellence India Citation Award by Thomson Reuters, 2015
  • IPGI Science Leadership Award by the International Peanut Genome Initiative, 2017
  • The Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Award (US$100,000 for lab), 2013
  • Young Crop Scientist Award by Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), 2013
  • NASI-Scopus Young Scientist Award by National Academy of Sciences, India & Elsevier, South Asia, 2010
  • INSA-Young Scientist Medal by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), 2008
  • NASI-Young Scientist Platinum Jubilee Award by the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), 2007


Funding overview

Dr Varshney has developed a large network comprising of 180+ public and private sector research organizationsin >35 countries across six continents. He has worked with a range of stakeholders (policymakers, funding bodies) e.g. Ministers, Secretaries, Advisors, Vice-Chancellors, Directors and Presidents/ CEOs of several organizations in many countries. He has been successful to secure funding as a PI/ Project Coordinator and co-PI in the last 13 years from several international and national funding agencies including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, MARS Chocolate, USA, Cornell University, USA, Govt of Karnataka, India, Syngenta Foundation, ICAR- India, DAC&FW, India, USAID – India, Peanut Foundation, DBT- India, ACIAR- Australia, BBSRC– DFID, NSF- USA and others.

Education/Academic qualification

Genomics, Molecular Breeding, PhD, Ch. Charan Singh University

Sep 1995Jan 2001

Award Date: 15 Jan 2001

External positions

Research Program Director – Grain Legumes , International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

Aug 2013Feb 2016

Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics & Systems Biology, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

1 Jan 2012 → …

Principal Scientist, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

Dec 2008 → …

Leader, SubProgramme 2, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

Jul 2007Sep 2013

Research Program Director, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics

Jan 2006 → …

Senior Scientist

Sep 2005Dec 2008

Industry keywords

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Biotechnology

Research expertise keywords

  • Genomics
  • Next Generation Sequencing
  • Molecular Breeding
  • Genome Sequencing
  • Capacity building
  • Abiotic stress
  • Nutrition


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