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Cotton Researcher Named Outstanding Scientist by ARS / February 13, 2002 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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National news release

William R. Meredith, Jr.


Cotton Researcher Named Outstanding Scientist by ARS

By Jim Core
February 13, 2002

BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 13, 2002--Research geneticist William R. Meredith, Jr., of Stoneville, Miss., has been named an “Outstanding Senior Research Scientist of 2001" by the Agricultural Research Service, the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meredith is lead scientist of the ARS Cotton Germplasm/Genetics Research Team at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center in Stoneville. He is being honored for providing outstanding research and leadership solutions to the fiber quality and yield problems of the cotton industry.

“Dr. Meredith is a leader in cotton genetic research as evidenced by the many requests for his presentations, article reviews and program reviews by ARS, the cotton industry, state, national, international and private organizations,” said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. “His publication record involves the disciplines of genetics, plant breeding, genome mapping, pathology, entomology, weed science, agronomy, cell physiology, field physiology and engineering–all indicating his team approach to solving problems.”

Knipling will present a plaque to Meredith at a 1 p.m. ceremony today at the agency’s Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. He will also receive a cash award and additional support for his research program. Meredith is the Outstanding Senior Scientist of the Year for ARS’ Mid South Area, which includes laboratories in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Meredith has served as a team leader, research leader, location leader, acting associate area director and acting area director in his 37 years with ARS. He has authored or coauthored 166 publications. He has released more than 30 cotton germplasms for public use with superior yield and quality. He identified causes of cotton yield declines in the 1970s and again in the 1990s.

Experiments by Meredith and his colleagues showed that substitution of smoothleaf for the commonly grown pubescent cotton cultivars could result in significant increases in fiber grade, less cleaning during ginning and less gin loss and short fibers. His research also demonstrated that smoothleaf cultivars were resistant to aphids. These findings have resulted in a shift from 10 percent of Mid-South cotton acreage being planted with smoothleaf cotton cultivars in 1982 to 60 percent of current acreage for the region being planted with these cultivars.

Meredith previously led studies that showed breeders and the textile industry that a high priority should be placed on fiber fineness and bundle strength in order to respond to a new rotor spinning method. Meredith was one of two ARS scientists recently named by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute to a committee determining what fiber traits are needed for newer spinning methods.

In other research, Meredith discovered a trait in cotton that reduced tarnished plant bug numbers and yield losses by an average of 50 percent.

The goal of the team he currently heads is to assure that germplasm is available to the public and private sectors for improving cotton yield, fiber quality and pest resistance.

A native of Batesville, Miss., Meredith received his B.S. in agronomy/crops from Mississippi State University in 1956 and his M.S. in agronomy/crops with a minor in botany there in 1957. Meredith received a Ph.D. in plant breeding with minors in statistics and agronomy from Cornell University in 1963.

Meredith is the only scientist to receive the Cotton Genetics Research Award from the National Cotton Council twice--in 1977 and 1997. He was named the Delta Council Researcher of the Year in 1991-1992 and the Agronomist of the Year by the Mississippi Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy in 1999. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Last Modified: 2/13/2002
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