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Grains breeder to give IANR Heuermann Lecture


"Setting the Stage: Why Agriculture" is the topic of the second Heuermann Lecture when P. Stephen Baenziger, Ph.D., speaks Nov. 10, at 4 p.m. in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Baenziger, small grains breeder in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL, is the first UNL scientist to hold the Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair, an endowed professorship through a licensing agreement between NUtech Ventures and Bayer CropScience.

IANR's new Heuermann Lectures focus on the world's growing food needs. Open to the public, they are made possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

"Agriculture has gone from being a nearly forgotten, taken-for-granted field to one of critical importance nationally and globally," said Baenziger, who University of Nebraska President James. B. Milliken has named recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, NU's top award for research.

"The Green Revolution gave us 40 years of food surpluses, but we've used up those surpluses and once again live in a period of rising food prices and food scarcity," Baenziger said. "Agriculture is vital both to Nebraska and the world. In 'Setting the Stage: Why Agriculture,' I'll look at where we've been, where we are, and a direction for the future."

In the last five years Baenzier has released six new wheat cultivars. He is quick to note the work of those who have gone before him and those he works with now are key in accounting for the Nebraska-developed cultivars grown on 65 percent of Nebraska's wheat acres.

Recognized internationally for his work, Baenziger is one of only two Americans serving on the board of trustees of the prestigious International Rice Research Institute. The Institute's Director General is the other.

"Food, and how we produce food, and if there is enough food to keep the world's population free from threat of hunger and starvation, affect all of us," said Ronnie Green, IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor who serves as moderator for the Heuermann Lectures.

"We need to find ways to sustain our natural resources as we produce food to feed the world and provide renewable energy, even as we contemplate climate change's effect on crop production," Green continued. "Steve Baenziger is a thoughtful, internationally respected scientist who has both research and insight to provide well-reasoned and compelling answers to the question, 'why agriculture.'"

Among Baenziger's awards and honors are being an honoree in the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement, and being the recipient of the Nebraska Agribusiness Club Public Service Award, the Crop Science Society of America Crop Science Research Award, the American Society of Agronomy Agronomic Achievement Award-Crops, and other awards.

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