Oklahoma State University’s Brett Carver has been named the 2009 recipient of the Sarkeys Distinguished Professor Award by the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

The Sarkeys award is based on outstanding contributions to agriculture through teaching, research or extension efforts. The award was established by the Sarkeys Foundation in 1980 to honor Elmo Baumann, an agronomist who worked with the foundation after his retirement from OSU.

Carver is an OSU Regents professor, holds the university’s Wheat Genetics Chair in Agriculture and serves as the wheat breeder for the state of Oklahoma. He has generated approximately $7 million in grants to support basic and applied research on wheat development and production.

“Dr. Carver has established a truly remarkable record of productivity in developing new, high-performance wheat cultivars for Oklahoma and the Central Plains states,” said Dave Porter, head of OSU’s department of plant and soil sciences.

Porter credited Carver’s “dynamic leadership” of the nine-member, multi-disciplinary OSU Wheat Improvement Team for playing a large role in the development and release of 13 hard red winter or hard white cultivars within the last 10 years.

One of the recent cultivars – Endurance – now leads the state in certified seed sales and production of foundation seed.

“Oklahoma’s 2008 wheat crop was valued at more than $1 billion,” Porter said. “Wheat is a significant driver of the state economy. Dr. Carver’s new genetically improved cultivars are the lifeblood of this critically important agricultural sector.”

Carver is recognized internationally as a leading authority in quantitative genetics of complex traits in wheat and genetic enhancement of wheat for maximizing grain yield and forage production for ruminant grazing. His expertise relative to optimizing breeding gains in wheat through innovative strategies also is widely recognized.

He developed and implemented a customized breeding procedure called GrazenGrain that targets both juvenile and adult growth stages of wheat development for improved performance in dual-purpose management systems common to the southern Great Plains.

Carver introduced awnless bread-wheat cultivars to the southern Great Plains that could be marketed for triplicate use in forage-only, grain-only and dual-purpose management sytems.

He was the first scientist to identify genetic pockets of aluminum tolerance in the hard winter wheat gene pool, which prompted breeding efforts to develop new cultivars with improved adaptation to acidic soils, a widespread constraint throughout the southern Great Plains.

“In my opinion, the one word that describes Dr. Carver is passion,” said Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. “He is passionate about agriculture production and the consumption of agriculture food products, especially as it relates to sustainability for rural America.”

Carver was named a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy in 2000, the highest honor awarded by the society. He was named a Fellow in the Crop Science Society of America in 2001.

An OSU faculty member since 1985, Carver’s past honors include the division’s James A. Whatley Award for Meritorious Research in Agricultural Sciences and the Crop Science Society of America’s Young Crop Scientist Award, among others.

He is a prolific scientific author, with an outstanding record of 94 referred journal articles, nine books and book chapters, 95 abstracts and 63 research reports.

Carver earned his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Georgia in 1980. He earned his master’s degree in crop physiology and doctoral degree in crop breeding from North Carolina State University in 1982 and 1985, respectively.