By Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
LIND, Wash. – Washington State University’s two leading wheat breeders will advance the state’s $1 billion wheat industry as co-recipients of the O.A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Wheat Breeding and Genetics.
Arron Carter, director of the WSU winter wheat breeding and genetics program, and Michael Pumphrey, director of the spring wheat breeding and genetics program, were named to the Vogel Chair today by Kim Kidwell, executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.
Carter and Pumphrey are associate professors in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. Funded by the Washington Grain Commission, the joint endowment supports their work to solve emerging issues and breed better wheat for the state’s growers.
The chair was created by the grain commission in 1998 to advance the legacy of Orville A. Vogel. A U.S. Department of Agriculture wheat breeder and agronomist, he led development at WSU of the first commercially successful semi-dwarf wheat varieties. This paved the way for the “Green Revolution” of increased global wheat production in the mid-20th century.
Kulvinder Gill, professor in crop and soil sciences, was named the first chair in 2002 and held the position until 2014.
Carter was hired as WSU’s winter wheat breeder in 2009. He learned the basics of plant breeding as an undergraduate and master’s student at the University of Idaho and received his doctorate in crop science at WSU in 2009.
Pumphrey, who succeeded Kidwell as WSU’s spring wheat breeder, came to Pullman in 2010 from Kansas State University where he was an adjunct professor and USDA research geneticist.
Collaborating closely with breeders, scientists, growers and consumers, Carter and Pumphrey have developed stress- and disease-resistant, high-yielding, high-quality wheat varieties tailored for production in the Northwest’s diverse environments.
In the last seven years, they have released more than a dozen new cultivars, including Jasper, WSU’s 100th variety, a soft white winter wheat named for WSU’s first wheat breeder, William Jasper Spillman.
“Dr. Vogel was a hero to the wheat industry and was beloved by growers throughout the region,” Kidwell said. “Arron and Mike share Dr. Vogel’s commitment to making great discoveries that support farming. His legacy lives on through the contributions they are making to sustaining wheat production in the Pacific Northwest.”
“As someone who has worked with Arron and Mike for the last seven years, I am thrilled that WSU has selected them as co-holders of the Vogel Chair,” said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission. “Their dedication to the Washington wheat industry has made a real difference, and the funding that the Vogel Chair provides will help them continue to make a difference for farmers in the decades ahead.”
Donations to the O.A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Wheat Breeding and Genetics can be made at https://secure.wsu.edu/give/default.aspx?fund=Vogel+Endowed+Chair+in+Wheat+Breeding+and+Genetics. Learn more about wheat variety research at WSU at http://smallgrains.wsu.edu/variety/.
Arron Carter, WSU winter wheat breeder, 509-335-6198, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Pumphrey, WSU spring wheat breeder, 509-335-0509, email@example.com
Marta Coursey, CAHNRS communications, 509-335-2806, firstname.lastname@example.org