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Fellowship marks revival of plant breeding

Professorial Fellowship marks revival of plant breeding education


24 September 2008

Dr Warren Williams has been appointed as the AgResearch Professorial Fellow in Plant Breeding at Massey University, primarily to support the new post-graduate qualification in plant breeding offered by Massey and Lincoln Universities.

The joint appointment between AgResearch and the Massey University’s Institutes of Natural Resources and Molecular Biosciences will see Professor Williams spend one day a week at the University.

A Senior Scientist at AgResearch Grasslands, Professor Williams is a recognised international expert in the field of plant breeding, with vast experience gained through his role as Curator of AgResearch’s Margot Forde Forage Germplasm Centre.

Plant Breeding is critical to the success of the agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries of New Zealand, and the lucrative international seed markets.

Professor Williams’ appointment heralds a revival in conventional plant breeding based on quantitative genetics, and the further integration of these with modern DNA technologies.

But with a growing recognition that conventional plant breeders are essential to translate advances in DNA technology into plant varieties in the field, and many established breeders close to retirement, the industry is in need of new graduates and up-skilling.

To meet this capability gap, Massey and Lincoln Universities have teamed up with key stake-holding industries, together with the appointment of Dr Williams, to offer a one or two-year post-graduate qualification in Plant Breeding starting in 2009.

Professor Williams is thrilled to see the return of plant breeding education in New Zealand.

“The resumption of plant breeding teaching is a great step for scientific advancement to grow some of New Zealand’s key industries, and I’m really pleased to be involved.”


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