Published on 07/14/11

UGA researcher wins Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Agriscience Award

By Sharon Dowdy

University of Georgia Distinguished Research Professor Andrew Paterson has been awarded the 2011 Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Agriscience Award.

The honor is one of two research-funding awards presented by the foundation, which is supported by the federal government and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Two scientists selected

Paterson and Randall Prather, a professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, each received the CCFF Agricultural Science Distinguished Agriscience Scientist Award of $25,000 and up to $25,000 in research funding.

Jointly appointed in three UGA departments -- crop and soil science, plant biology and genetics -- Paterson is director of the UGA Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, a joint unit of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Andy Paterson has the unique ability to bring to bear some of the most complicated genetic technologies to study real-world problems that will have an immediate impact upon farm production,” said Scott Angle, CAES dean and director. “It is quite amazing just how many sectors of agriculture he has impacted. I am pleased that the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation has recognized Dr. Paterson for his many far-reaching contributions to agriculture.”

Improving crops through genetics

Paterson’s research team works closely with scientists in several applied agricultural disciplines to identify specific genes responsible for characteristics important to plant development, evolution and agriculture and to clarify the function or functions of these genes. He studies biofuel production and is evaluating plants such as sorghum and the ornamental grass Miscanthus as biofuel crops.

“Our laboratory is interested in the identification and implementation of DNA diagnostic tools that are predictive of specific plant characteristics such as disease resistance, improved productivity or improved quality,” he said.

“The winning candidates honored here are innovators in the field of agricultural science and technology,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “They are the individuals we will rely on well into the future to develop and promote innovative ways to secure American agriculture and its role as a world producer.”

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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