“This awards reflects how great teams of scientists have been able to tap natural diversity with powerful new tools to address the challenges facing society, agriculture, and the environment today,."
Washington, DC (PRWEB) January 23, 2017
Edward Buckler, Ph.D., a research geneticist focused on nutrition and food security, is the first-ever recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences. He is being honored for his contribution to global food security and nutrition.
The annual National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences was established in 2016 through support from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to recognize research by a mid-career scientist at a U.S. institution who has made an extraordinary contribution to agriculture.
Buckler, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service researcher and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, studies the connection between a crop plant’s genetic makeup and the varying physical traits exhibited by different strains of that crop.
One of the achievements that earned Buckler the Prize was the development of a solution to vitamin A deficiency, a life-threatening issue in the developing world. Buckler and his colleagues examined the genetic causes of natural variation in different strains of maize and used their findings to breed a new kind of maize with 15 times more vitamin A than conventional varieties. This biofortified maize is now widely available in Zambia, where more than half of children under the age of five are vitamin A deficient.
“This award reflects how great teams of scientists have been able to tap natural diversity with powerful new tools to address the challenges facing society, agriculture, and the environment today,” said Buckler.
In addition to nutrient deficiency, Buckler and his group have addressed other critical agricultural issues threatening world food security such as drought tolerance, and disease resistance.
The specific research techniques pioneered by Buckler and his collaborators have been used to study thousands of different plant species and even influenced the study of the human genome. Committed to information sharing, Buckler and his group have also developed open-source software and databases, which thousands of research groups around the world use to analyze natural variation.
“The global community will continue to see the impact of Dr. Buckler’s work for years to come. His work in nutrition and food security demonstrate the high level of scientific excellence that we set out to recognize when we partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to endow this prize,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research congratulates Dr. Buckler for this well-deserved honor and we look forward to his future contributions.”
About the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. Leveraging public and private resources, FFAR will increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. Established by the 2014 Farm Bill, FFAR is governed by a Board of Directors chaired by former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and with ex oficio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
About the National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.