Freddie M. Bourland, a cotton research geneticist and public cotton breeding program leader with the University of Arkansas, is the recipient of the 2001 Cotton Genetics Research Award. Bourland's peers presented the award during the Cotton Improvement Conference of the National Cotton Council-coordinated 2002 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Atlanta.

U.S. commercial cotton breeders have presented the Cotton Genetics Research Award for the past 39 years to a scientist for outstanding basic research in cotton genetics. The Joint Cotton Breeding Policy Committee comprised of representatives from state experiment stations, USDA, private breeders and the NCC establishes criteria for the award.

Since 1997, Bourland has served as a professor and director of the University of Arkansas Northeast Research and Extension Center in Keiser, where his main focus has been developing lines of cotton adapted to the Mid-South with enhanced host-plant resistance.

Nominator William R. Meredith Jr., a USDA research geneticist, said Bourland has made a major contribution to all cotton culture — genetic and management — by being one of the principal developers of the COTMAN computerized management system, a program that is “user friendly, easy to work with and is very useful in understanding the growth and development of the cotton crop.”

Another nominator, Luther Bird, a Texas A&M University geneticist and professor emeritus, said Bourland has added to the number of traits breeders should use in improving cotton for resisting and escaping damages caused by pathogens, insects and environmental stresses.

Since 1978, Bourland has been a project leader for public cotton breeding programs — in Mississippi from 1978-1988 and in Arkansas from 1988 to the present.

Thirty germplasm lines and one cotton cultivar have been developed and released that exhibit enhanced performance as a result of Bourland's studies in the areas of seed/seedling vigor, host-plant resistance, maturity/fiber quality, leaf/bract pubescence and root/plant growth.

The Arkansas native earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University. He taught for nine years in what is now known as Mississippi State University's Plant and Soil Sciences Department. Since 1987, he has been a professor in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences at the University of Arkansas.

Bourland, who has served on the National Cotton Variety Testing Committee since 1988, has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including the Arkansas Cotton Achievement and the John W. White Team Research awards in 1999.