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Rutgers Professor Receives Early Career Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding

News Release
Monday October 19, 2009

Rutgers Professor Receives Early Career Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding

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Stacy Bonos, assistant professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has been selected by the multi-state Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee (PBCC) to receive its inaugural Early Career Excellence in Plant Breeding Award. The award was announced at the annual scientific meeting of the PBCC on August 4, 2009. As the award recipient, Bonos has been invited to present her research and anchor a round table discussion for graduate students at the 2010 meeting.

The Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee (PBCC) is a broad-based group including plant breeders from land-grant universities in over 38 states, plus plant breeders working in the federal government and private companies. All types of crops are represented, including grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, ornamentals, turf, and trees. This Early Career award is the first of its kind for plant breeding. The PBCC hopes that the award will help attract young people to consider a career in plant breeding, by demonstrating peer recognition of the accomplishments of outstanding young plant breeders.

"Stacy has developed a 21st century breeding program in which she is doing it all," said Brad Hillman, Director of Cooperative Research at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES). "Teaching, gaining substantial extramural funding for an exceptional research program, and releasing a wide range of different plant varieties."

In her breeding research for turf and biofuels, Bonos uses diverse plant genetic resources to develop new plant types that are more tolerant of pests and poor or dry soils. Her varieties are robust without excessive use of pesticides, and require less fertilizer and water compared to earlier varieties. These are important advantages that give lawns and golf courses smaller environmental "footprints." They also help make biofuel production more sustainable.

"It is very rewarding to know that the new varieties help to improve the quality of our environment," says Bonos who is a faculty member with the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers. "I truly love my job. I am grateful and proud to receive the Early Career Award in Plant Breeding from the PBCC. It is good to be recognized for my plant breeding efforts and it encourages me to continue my research and inspire students to pursue careers in plant breeding."

For a young scientist, Bonos has a remarkable record. She has developed 14 new plant varieties, mentored many graduate and undergraduate students, written numerous extension and popular publications about how to use the new varieties, and published 36 scientific articles. Bonos has received several awards, including the 2005 Young Crop Scientist Award from the Crop Science Society of America and the 2001 Musser International Turfgrass Foundation "Award of Excellence."

"Plant breeding is a key science for agriculture, and early career plant breeders will shape its future," observes Phil Simon, PBCC’s Chairman and a vegetable crop breeder with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. "The achievements of Stacy Bonos are an outstanding example. We applaud her success, and congratulate her on being the first recipient of the PBCC Early Career Excellence Award in Plant Breeding."

About the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee
The Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee is a multi-state project, #SCC80. It is national in scope but administered by the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, in cooperation with the National Institute for Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The PBCC provides a forum for discussion, organization, and leadership on matters affecting long-term U.S. plant breeding capacities, including research and education, and their relevance to current and future national needs.

About the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station is the primary unit at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey that is responsible for carrying out the university's land-grant mission and functions. It is mandated by the state to pursue research and outreach that generate and deliver practical science-based solutions for the viability, health and sustainability of industries and communities related to agriculture, the environment, natural resources, food, and human and community development. NJAES is the home of Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  

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Media Contact: Paula Walcott-Quintin
732-932-7000, ext. 4204
E-mail: quintin@aesop.rutgers,edu

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