BALTIMORE – Two Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists were honored for their professional achievements with the title of Fellow by the Crop Sciences Society of America, or CSSA, and the American Society of Agronomy, or ASA, during the annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
The two honored were Dr. Amir Ibrahim, one of 14 Fellows named this year by ASA, and Dr. Seth Murray, one of nine named Fellow by CSSA. The designation of Fellow by both societies is based on professional achievements and meritorious service.
In addition to the two Fellow awards presented in Baltimore, Texas A&M students Caitlyn Lakey, Savanna Shelnutt and Nicole Shigley were selected as Golden Opportunity Scholars. The scholars program matches undergraduates with scientist-mentors and encourages students to pursue careers in the agronomic, crop and soil sciences.
“The soil and crop sciences department at Texas A&M has a long history of leadership in these societies, and it is great to see two more faculty members honored by the groups’ highest awards, as well as see our bright future recognized by the leadership of our students,” said Dr. David Baltensperger, head of the department in College Station.
Ibrahim, a professor and wheat breeder, and Murray, an associate professor and corn breeder, are both AgriLife Research faculty in the Texas A&M University department of soil and crop sciences in College Station. Murray is the Eugene Butler Endowed Chair in Agricultural Biotechnology and Ibrahim is a Texas A&M AgriLife Faculty Fellow.
Murray exemplifies the teaching-research-service mentality of the land grant mission in all he does, his nomination stated, noting both agriculture and the CSSA have benefited from his career commitments to crop science and plant breeding.
“Dr. Murray’s leadership across a broad spectrum of research and service sets him apart,” Baltensperger said.
Murray directs a research program focused on both quantitative genetic discovery and applied corn breeding for Texas and the southern U.S. Breeding trait research in his program includes improved aflatoxin resistance, drought tolerance and nutrient-use efficiency in yellow corn. It also addresses incorporation of novel genetic diversity for perennial, blue and quality protein maize.
According to his nomination, Murray was the first to conduct a genetic diversity study, a genome wide association study and among the first to conduct linkage mapping in bioenergy sorghum.. This seminal and highly cited work remains a benchmark for genetics and breeding bioenergy sorghum.
Relevant to current achievements, this was among the first mapping studies to focus on phenotyping over 50 different traits he personally measured with high- and low-throughput tools.
His nomination stated Murray is a world expert on field phenotyping with unmanned aerial vehicles, UAV or drones, and ground vehicles. He co-led a project of 40-plus faculty across disciplines in developing procedures for scaling UAV technology for breeding and precision agriculture.
In addition to his research and teaching duties, Murray has chaired 26 graduate committees and served as a member of additional 30.
Murray earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his doctorate at Cornell University.
He was recognized with the Soil and Crop Sciences Research Award in 2017 by Texas A&M; selected as a senior advisor of agricultural systems to the Office of the Chief Scientist at U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016-2017; earned the CSSA Early Career Award in 2014; and the National Association of Plant Breeders Early Career Award in 2013.
Ibrahim leads the small–grains breeding program at Texas A&M, managing wheat cultivar development for the South, Central and Northeast regions of the state. He also has been recognized for southern-adapted oat varieties and other small-grain research.
He has released or co‐released 18 wheat and three oat cultivars with high yield potential, excellent quality and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, according to his nomination. Eleven of his 21 releases and co‐releases had viable seed production in 2016, covering over 1 million acres in five states.
Ibrahim is known for his applied research on genetic control of end-use quality and biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in wheat, as well as his continuing research of hybrid wheat, the nomination stated. His most recent release, TAM 305 hard red winter wheat, was highlighted in Crop Science Association News for its superior resistance to disease.
According to the nomination, Ibrahim is in demand as an international expert in areas such as Mexico, northern Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. He continues to disseminate knowledge for the relief of poverty and hunger through improved agriculture via his formal and informal educational efforts.
In addition to his teaching duties, Ibrahim has served as the adviser or co-adviser of 17 doctorate and 15 master’s students, most of whom hold research and leadership positions in the public and private sectors. He has published 97 refereed journal articles, 36 Extension papers, 11 technical reports, two book chapters and 87 abstracts and proceedings.
Baltensperger recognized “the high impact of Dr. Ibrahim’s research, which has been cited nearly 2,000 times.”
Ibrahim earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Gezira in Sudan, his master’s degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and his doctorate from Colorado State University.
Ibrahim was named a CSSA Fellow in 2017. He has received the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Award for the Best International Impact and Dean’s Award for the Best Multidisciplinary Team, the Texas A&M Technology Commercialization Team Innovation Award, Texas A&M Vice Chancellor’s team award, and the Texas A&M soil and crop sciences department Individual Achievement Research Award.