Matthew Morell is IRRI’s director general with decades of leadership experience driven by a passion for scientific excellence, an understanding of private-public partnerships, a sound capacity for stakeholder engagement, protection of intellectual property, and people engagement skills.
As director general, Matthew is the institute’s chief executive officer (CEO), directly managing and administering its affairs in accordance with the policies and decisions of the IRRI Board of Trustees. He sets the institute’s strategic direction in close consultation with the board.
Prior to assuming the role of director general, Matthew was deputy director general for research, providing strategic leadership to IRRI’s research and outreach programs across various dimensions of rice science, including climate change-ready rice, healthier rice varieties, environmentally sustainable crop farming systems, farmer-friendly crop management and value chain practices, timely and accurate provision of rice information, capacity building, and building the next generation of rice scientists.
Prior to his senior management roles at IRRI, Matthew was theme leader for 16 years at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where he led a research program on Future Grains and Plant Oil Production.
Matthew also has extensive experience in identifying, protecting, and managing intellectual property, as well as establishing a means for strong compliance with the requirements of gene technology regulations, genetic modification stewardship, and occupational health and safety legislation. He holds a PhD in agricultural chemistry from the University of Sydney, and did postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Davis and served as research fellow at the Australian National University.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations. IRRI is an independent, nonprofit, research and educational institute, founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations with support from the Philippine government. The institute, headquartered in Los Baños, Philippines, has offices in 17 rice-growing countries in Asia and Africa, and more than 1,000 staff.
Working with in-country partners, IRRI develops advanced rice varieties that yield more grain and better withstand pests and disease as well as flooding, drought, and other harmful effects of climate change. More than half of the rice area in Asia is planted to IRRI-bred varieties or their progenies. The institute develops new and improved methods and technologies that enable farmers to manage their farms profitably and sustainably, and recommends rice varieties and agricultural practices suitable to particular farm conditions as well as consumer preferences. IRRI assists national agricultural research and extension systems in formulating and implementing country rice sector strategies.
Alumni of IRRI's educational initiatives include some of the world's leading rice scientists as well as high-level NARES and agriculture ministry officials. From 1962 to 2014, about 130,000 students, researchers, farmers, and extension professionals, among others, received some form of training from IRRI and its partners. Within this total number, close to 2,000 scholars conducted research at the institute while pursuing their MS and PhD degrees. As free educational resources, IRRI’s scientific publications, available online since 2007, have received a total of about 3 million views, with more than 30.4 million page views.
IRRI is administered by a director general who, with the IRRI Board of Trustees (BOT) and management team, sets the Institute’s scientific direction, policy, and strategies.
We have more than 1,000 staff members located at our headquarters in the Philippines and at our other locations throughout Asia and Africa.