Soy checkoff-funded fellowships add new crop of soy researchers
The pool of strong U.S. soy researchers just got a little deeper thanks to the soybean research fellowships program of the United Soybean Board and soy checkoff. The checkoff awarded fellowships to two students who have been recently accepted into doctoral programs emphasizing improvements to U.S. soybeans. The two students will receive $25,000 annual stipends over four years.
"It's important to actively seek out future researchers and nudge them toward focusing on soybean research," says Jim Schriver, chair of the soy checkoff's production program and a soybean farmer from Bluffton, Ind. "With so many veteran soy researchers retiring, or planning to retire soon, it's important that a new generation fills their shoes. These fellowships are just one way that U.S. soybean farmers can help ensure that soy research keeps moving forward."
This year's crop of future soy researchers yielded two soy checkoff-funded fellowship recipients: Zachary King and Eric Wilson.
Zachary King continues the pursuit of his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia's Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics & Genomics, where he earned a Master of Science degree. King's work centers on obtaining novel resistance to soybean rust and marker-assisted selection of breeding lines. In addition to the USB fellowship, the University of Georgia graduate school also awarded him grants for his work on rust resistance and genotyping. King will study under the watchful eye of veteran soybean researcher Roger Boerma, Ph.D., a longtime USB partner who specializes in soybean breeding and genomics.
Eric Wilson is working toward his doctorate in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. He began his Ph.D. program this summer, studying soybean production and physiology under the advisement of Seth Naeve, Ph.D. Wilson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy from Iowa State University in 2010 and his Master of Science degree in agronomy from Purdue University in 2012. At Iowa State, Eric gained agricultural experience through corn breeding and production internships with DuPont Pioneer and the Iowa State Corn Extension Program.
"Eric and Zachary represent the top-level students in ag science," says Schriver. "It's good to know that they're focusing their research on U.S. soy. Whether investigating new options for production management or finding new genes for improved varieties, their research ultimately benefits every U.S. soybean farmer."
Soy checkoff dollars have supported graduate fellowships focused on soy research since 2007.
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers.
For more information, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.