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Cereal Scientist Earns "Early Career" Researcher Award / February 13, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Cereal Scientist Earns "Early Career" Researcher Award

By Amy Spillman
February 13, 2002

BEAUMONT, Tex., Feb. 13, 2002--Christine Bergman, a research chemist with the Agricultural Research Service, has won an Early Career Research Scientist award from the agency and will be honored in a ceremony today at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.

Bergman’s award stems from her unique understanding of the principles of cereal chemistry, human nutrition, plant genetics and molecular biology. Her expertise and training have allowed her to bridge these disciplines and develop a new understanding of the chromosomal location and genetic control of end-use quality traits in wheat and rice. This research will allow breeders to use a wider array of genetic resources in their breeding programs and shorten cultivar development time.

Bergman is a nationally and internationally renowned expert on rice quality evaluation methods and has trained rice scientists from Australia, Brazil and China in these techniques. She is considered the main resource on rice cereal quality for U.S. rice breeding programs and is frequently consulted on cereal chemistry and rice quality issues by numerous milling, cereal and processed food companies in the United States.

At the ARS Rice Research Unit in Beaumont, Texas, Bergman is responsible for evaluating 8,000 to 10,000 rice genetic lines each year, a duty that she performs as a service to U.S. rice breeders and the U.S. rice industry. In her research, she has implemented new molecular marker technology for the evaluation of amylose content--the most important single determinant in rice quality--and furthered the development of methods of quality assessment for rice aroma.

She has also initiated pioneering research into the health benefits of rice, which may open up new markets and increase demand for U.S.-produced varieties. Ultimately, her research will allow breeders to develop new cultivars and help U.S. rice farmers remain competitive in the global marketplace.

The “early career” award is given to ARS scientists who have made outstanding scientific contributions, have been with the agency seven years or less and have completed their highest academic degree within the past 10 years. Bergman is the winner for the agency’s Southern Plains Area. This area includes research locations in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and the nation of Panama.

Bergman’s citation is for “leadership in understanding the genetic control of grain functionality traits in wheat and rice.” ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling will present Dr. Bergman with a plaque and cash award at the Feb. 13 ceremony. She will also receive $10,000 from the agency in research support.

Bergman is active in several scientific professional societies and has recently been elected president of the Rice Division of the American Association of Cereal Chemists. She began working for USDA in 1994, the same year she received her Ph.D. in food science from Michigan State University. She received her bachelor of science degree in clinical nutrition from Loma Linda University in 1986 and her master of science degree in food science from the University of Arizona in 1990.

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Last Modified: 2/13/2002
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