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USDA's Agricultural Research Service Announces Scientist of the Year Awards

By Dennis O'Brien
June 12, 2012

Ed Buckler
Edward S. Buckler. Click the image for 300 dpi.

WASHINGTON—Edward S. Buckler has been named Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 2011 by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for conducting landmark studies of corn that have placed him at the forefront of plant genetics, improved the crop's nutritional value, and led to the development of molecular tools now being used to study the genetic underpinnings of a wide range of plants and diseases. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Buckler is a geneticist and senior scientist at the ARS Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, N.Y. He and other ARS researchers are being honored today at a ceremony in Beltsville, Md.

"By taking such a comprehensive approach to the study of the natural variation found in cereal crops, Dr. Buckler has enhanced the value of a major U.S. commodity and is addressing nutritional problems that plague many parts of the world," said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator.

Buckler led a team that developed a powerful genetic mapping platform for maize, or corn, lines. The platform proved instrumental in studies that identified genes controlling important agronomic traits, such as those involved in local adaptation. In one study, Buckler and his team surveyed the levels of corn genome for carotenoid (pro-vitamin A) to address Vitamin A deficiencies, a problem that can cause childhood blindness and immune deficiencies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Buckler and his team worked with international collaborators to identify key genes and alleles that enabled breeders to develop varieties with 15 times more pro-Vitamin A.

(More about Buckler's research)


Marcus Kehrli ARS also will recognize the following Area Senior Research Scientists today:

Marcus E. Kehrli, Jr., ARS Virus and Prion Research Unit, National Animal Disease Center, Ames, Iowa, for sustained excellence in animal health research. (More)

David GoodrichDavid C. Goodrich, ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, Ariz., for advances in eco-hydrology, leadership in interdisciplinary research and integration of science into watershed management policies. (More)

Kevin JensenKevin B. Jensen, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah, for consistent leadership and productivity in development and release of germplasm and forage cultivars that have major impacts. (More)

Gillian EgglestonGillian Eggleston, ARS Commodity Utilization Research Unit, New Orleans, La., for developing and transferring technologies that prevent postharvest bacterial deterioration of sugarcane and sugar beet and increasing the efficiency of sucrose processing. (More)

Bosoon ParkBosoon Park, ARS Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit, Athens, Ga., for research in hyperspectral and real-time multispectral imaging and nanotechnology for food safety. (More)

Jeffrey G. ArnoldJeffrey G. Arnold, ARS Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory, Temple, Texas, for developing the SWAT model and other hydrologic and water quality support tools to solve water resource conservation and management problems worldwide. (More)

Craig S.T. DaughtryCraig S.T. Daughtry, ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for research in theory and applications of remote sensing for assessing crops and soils. (More)


Ed Buckler
Christina Swaggerty. Click the image for 300 dpi.

ARS is also recognizing outstanding "early career scientists" who have been with the agency for seven years or less. The top prize, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist Award, will be awarded to Christina L. Swaggerty, ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, College Station, Texas, for research to enhance the safety, security and wholesomeness of the U.S. food supply.

Adam S. Davis Other "Area Early Career Research Scientist Award" winners for 2011 are:

Adam S. Davis, ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, Urbana, Ill., for contributions in the development of economically and environmentally sustainable management of weeds. (More)

Daniel CookDaniel Cook, ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah, for investigations of physiology and chemotaxonomy of toxic plants and teamwork with collaborators and other members of the research unit. (More)

Lance Cadle-DavidsonLance Cadle-Davidson, ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit, Geneva, N.Y., for partnering with the grape industry to identify genetic resistance to powdery mildew and forming research collaborations to advance grape pathology, genetics and genomics. (More)

Julia Wei PridgeonJulia Wei Pridgeon, ARS Aquatic Animal Health Research Laboratory, Auburn, Ala., for inventing vaccines to protect fish against bacterial diseases. (More)

B. Todd CampbellB. Todd Campbell, ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center, Florence, S.C., for crop science research advances combining genomics and plant breeding.

Monica Santin-DuranMonica Santin-Duran, ARS Environmental Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., for research to discover pathogens of public health concern in food animals.

Knipling also announced his selections for the 2011 ARS Technology Transfer Awards for outstanding work in transferring technology to the marketplace. Individuals and groups are being recognized in two categories: for achievements with immediate impacts on the marketplace, and for achievements that represent five to 15 years of sustained effort. In each category, top awards were given for outstanding achievement and scientists also were cited for superior efforts.

Honors for outstanding achievement went to the ARS Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, La., for developing Choice Batter, a rice-based frying batter sold nationwide. Team members include ARS scientists Kim Daigle and Fred Shih (retired), both with the center's Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit; and outside partners Wayne Swann, Ron Friedman, Roch Kallmyer, John Howell, and Ray Jones, all of CrispTek, Columbia, Md.

Selected for superior technology transfer achievements were:

Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Tucson, Ariz., for developing Hopguard, a product that safely and effectively controls Varroa mites in honey bee colonies.

Gregory Holt, ARS Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit, Lubbock, Tex., for developing technology that uses cotton gin byproducts for biodegradable packaging and insulation board.

The Wheat Improvement Team in Raleigh, N.C., for developing specialty wheat varieties for farmers, millers, and bakers and for organic markets in North Carolina. Team members include Myron Fountain, Lynda Whitcher and Charlie Glover, all in the ARS Plant Science Research Unit, Raleigh; David Marshall, research leader of the unit and who is serving a detail as ARS national program leader for grain crops; and cooperator Bill Brown, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

Rick Barrows and Ken Overturf of the ARS Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit, Hagerman, Idaho, for developing improved rainbow trout and plant-based trout feed for U.S. aquaculture.

Top honors for technology transfer efforts that represent five to 15 years of sustained achievement went to the Canal Point Sugarcane Variety Selection Team for transferring high yielding sugarcane varieties to the Florida sugarcane industry and internationally transferring variety selection methods, disease screening and diagnostic procedures to growers and scientists in Central America.

Team members included Jack Comstock, Serge Edmé, Barry Glaz, Neil C. Glynn, Duli Zhao, Jimmy Miller (retired), Peter YP Tai (deceased), all of the ARS Sugarcane Production Research Unit, Canal Point, Fla.; and outside partners R. Wayne Davidson, of the Florida Sugar Cane League, Clewiston, Fla.; Robert Gilbert, Ronald Rice, and Leslie Baucum, all of the University of Florida, Belle Glade and LaBelle; James M. Shine, Jr., of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, Belle Glade; Raul Perdomo, Gerald Powell, Barney Eiland, and Modesto Ulloa, all of Florida Crystals Corp., West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Michael S. Irey and Chen-Jian Hu, both of the United States Sugar Corp., Clewiston, Fla.

Selected for superior technology transfer efforts in the sustained achievement category were:

Benjamin Matthews, ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory, Beltsville Md., for the development of "MiniMax," a cultivar developed specifically for research and education, and associated growing and transformation procedures.

Larry Stanker, ARS Foodborne Contaminants Research Unit, Albany, Calif., for development of monoclonal antibody technology to detect the antibiotic ceftiofur and its metabolites in milk.

The ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah, for developing and transferring plant materials that conserve, restore and increase productivity on western rangelands and pastures. Team members included Jack E. Staub, Thomas Jones, Kevin Jensen, Kay Asay (retired) and Douglas Dewey (deceased).

As USDA's chief scientific research agency, ARS is leading America towards a better future through agricultural research and information. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to help answer agricultural questions that impact Americans every day. ARS work helps to:

  • ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products;
  • assess the nutritional needs of Americans;
  • sustain a competitive agricultural economy;
  • enhance the natural resource base and the environment, and
  • provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities and society as a whole.