Dr. Wayne Smith, Texas A&M University soil and crop sciences associate department head, has been named Plant Breeder of the Year and the first recipient of the B.B. Singh Crop Science Award.

Smith was named Plant Breeder of the Year during the 67th Corn and Sorghum Seed Research Conference – American Seed Trade Association in Chicago. And the B.B. Singh award was made at the department’s annual meeting in College Station.

Dwight Bostick, chair of the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders, said the public plant breeding award has been presented since 1963 in recognition of individual scientific contributionstoward the betterment of American agriculture.

Smith, who has been with Texas A&M for the past 27 years, has committed his life as a plant breeder and scientist, Bostick said, in presenting the award.

“Dr. Smith is very active in promoting the education and training of the next generation of plant breeders,” Bostick said. “He’s already made an impact in the plant breeding community and his legacy will continue.”

Smith also is the recipient of the first B.B. Singh Crop Science Award. Dr. B.B. Singh is a visiting scientist from India who has been working in the soil and crop science department since 2007.

“Dr. Smith has excelled at many levels, including administrative, breeding, teaching and managerial duties,” Singh said, in presenting the award. “He leads one of the state’s and the country’s largest public cotton breeding programs while performing significant teaching and administrative duties as associate department head and graduate coordinator.”

In addition, Dr. David Baltensperger, soil and crop sciences department head, said, “Dr. Smith has truly made a difference for plant breeding through his own research, but it is especially significant to see Wayne recognized for his leadership in developing programs to train future plant breeders through the world’s first distance research-based doctoral program in plant breeding.”

Smith’s landmark achievements include the development of nine cotton germplasm lines that equal or exceed Pima cotton in terms of fiber length, according to the award recognition.

His primary research program focuses on cotton fiber quality improvement. He has released 128 improved germplasm lines and cultivars, and has authored or co-authored 97 refereed journal articles and 228 other research publications. He has written one text book on crop production, co-edited four crop monographs, and authored or co-authored 11 book chapters.

He teaches three courses and has directed 30 graduate students as a professor in the department. He has been instrumental in establishing weekly meetings of plant breeding faculty and graduate students and creation of a distance master’s degree and doctorate program in plant breeding from Texas A&M.

Smith earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University, and his doctorate from the University of Tennessee.