WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 W. Paul Williams, a geneticist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), was awarded by the agency today for research to help the corn industry deal with significant insect, nematode and aflatoxin problems. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.
Williams was honored as the "ARS Mid-South Area Senior Research Scientist of 2004." The Mid-South Area comprises Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. During a ceremony at USDA headquarters here today, he received a plaque, cash award and additional research funding.
Williams serves as research leader of the ARS Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit, located at the ARS Crop Science Research Laboratory in Mississippi State, Miss. He is internationally recognized as a leader in breeding corn for resistance to insects, nematodes and fungi. He led in the development and release of 16 corn germplasm lines that are used as a major source of resistance to insect and disease pests in corn breeding programs throughout the world.
During 30 years with ARS, Williams has authored or coauthored 100 manuscripts. In the last decade, he discovered that southwestern corn borer and fall armyworm larvae could be reared on tissue from mature corn kernels. His innovative use of tissue culture led to the discovery, cloning and patenting of a gene from corn that provides resistance to most lepidopteran insects that attack corn. The procedures developed by Williams have been used by scientists in numerous investigations of insect pests of corn and other crops.
Originally from Aragon, Ga., Williams earned a bachelor of science degree in botany from the University of Georgia, Athens. He received his doctorate in genetics in 1975 from North Carolina State University, Raleigh.
Williams is Adjunct Professor of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at Mississippi State University. His professional associations include membership in the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Entomological Society of America. He was named a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2004.