Samuel Acheampong hails from a farmer family from the Ashanti Region of southern Ghana. His family cultivated cassava, yams, plantains, tomatoes, peppers and other crops. These days, Acheampong works mostly in a science lab, but his interest in farming remains strong and he is using the Nobel Prize-recognized technique to tweak the genes of traditional Ghanaian crops.
Acheampong currently using the CRISPR gene-editing technique to tweak the characteristics of sweet potato plants, hoping to grow tubers that are both bigger and more nutritious. Acheampong is a researcher at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, where he is working on his doctorate. He recently returned after a three-year stint at North Carolina State University on a research fellowship.
He chatted with Inside Science’s Catherine Meyers shortly after the Nobel Committee for Chemistry announced it would honor the scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work pioneering the CRISPR tool. The committee cited crop improvements as one of the promising applications of the technique.