Charles Simpson, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station scientist, has received the Coyt T. Wilson award for his work in peanut breeding.

Simpson is a professor emeritus based at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Stephenville.

The American Peanut Research and Education Society established the award in 2002 to honor Wilson, one of the world’s top peanut plant pathologists, said Dr. Don Cawthon, resident director of research at the Stephenville center.

Simpson was given the award because he is the “foremost individual in the U.S. with respect to collection, evaluation, and preservation of genetic resources” of the genus of plants that includes peanuts, Cawthon said.

Simpson is renown in peanut breeding circles for his extensive germplasm gathering forays in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Since 1977, Simpson and his teams have collected more than 4,500 cultivated lines and 1,800 wild lines, representing 59 new species, Cawthon said.

In addition, Simpson developed hybrids that allowed molecular geneticists to produce genetic maps, Cawthon said. These maps were used to identify genetic markers that allowed plant breeders to transfer a high level of resistance to root-knot nematode from wild peanut species to cultivated varieties.

Simpson is the co-developer of 14 peanut cultivars adapted for use for Southwestern peanut growers. His other peanut lines have been of “high value” to plant breeders and geneticists throughout the nation, Cawthon said.

Simpson was also cited for his leadership role in the American Peanut Research and Education Society.

Simpson, though officially retired, still works full time at the Stephenville center in a research capacity for essentially no salary, Cawthon said.

“We have him on the books for four hours a week at minimum wage so he can (legally) drive a state vehicle when needed and apply for research grants,” he said.