Writer: Kay Ledbetter
Dr. Amir Ibrahim, Texas A&M AgriLife Research wheat breeder and tenured professor in the Texas A&M University department of soil and crop sciences in College Station, was honored as a Texas A&M Regents Professor recently in College Station.
The Texas A&M Board of Regents established the Regents Professor Awards program in 1996 and the Regents Fellow Service Awards program in 1998 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.
“I am grateful to the Board of Regents for this special recognition,” Ibrahim said. “I am also grateful to my department head and awards committee for nominating me when I was merely doing my job to serve the people of Texas, specifically, and the global community in general.”
Ibrahim has made significant professional achievements during the past 18 years in the educational aspect of his job, according to his nomination.
He serves as an adviser or co-adviser of 10 doctoral students and one master’s student and has served as the adviser or co-adviser of 17 doctoral and 15 master’s students, most of whom hold research and leadership positions in the public and private sectors.
A third of his graduate students are in positions of responsibility in the agricultural industry; 11 are in the field of crop improvement, with nine of those in the U.S. and two in other countries.
In his area of research, Ibrahim has released or co-released 18 winter wheat and three oat cultivars while at Texas A&M. Ten of the 18 wheat releases and co-releases were planted on almost 1.3 million acres in seven states during the 2017-2018 growing season, the nomination noted.
Ibrahim has obtained $5 million in funding to support his research, the nomination stated. He has shared his research findings by publishing 99 refereed journal articles, 37 Extension papers, 11 technical reports, two book chapters and 105 abstracts and proceedings.
Dr. David Baltensperger, soil and crop sciences department head, especially noted Ibrahim’s leadership abilities. He is project leader of the Small Grains Breeding program, chair of the AgriGenomics laboratory Advisory Committee and the past chair of Texas Plant Protection Association, as well as a member of TAMU Plant Release Committee and Texas Small Grains Advisory Committee. He also served as an associate editor for the Journal of Plant Registrations and was a member of the U.S. Wheat Germplasm Committee.
The effectiveness and quality of Ibrahim’s scholarly activities are seen in his growing influence in the international arena that includes collaborative efforts with the TAMU Borlaug Institute as well as with his research expertise in wheat breeding and genetics, his nomination stated. He is in demand as an international expert in such areas as Mexico, Northern Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Ibrahim continues to be committed to the dissemination of information and improved cultivars that will provide relief of poverty and hunger through improved agriculture via his formal and informal educational efforts. He has given 31 invited presentations in 17 countries.
His most recent release, TAM 305 hard red winter wheat, was highlighted in CSA News for its superior resistance to disease, according to the nomination, which further noted this cultivar is in demand by wheat breeders throughout the world to use in their breeding programs.
Of the 21 wheat and oat cultivars released, he was the lead breeder for 10 of these releases. His released cultivars in the U.S. High Plains, primarily Lyman and Ideal, have the best indigenous resistance among U.S. hard red winter wheat to fusarium head blight, a devastating fungal disease, without a genetic drag on yield or quality.
The nomination states his wheat releases in Texas combine high yield potential, superior end-use quality attributes, heat and drought tolerance, and leaf, stripe and stem rust resistance. Ibrahim is currently pyramiding minor genes into Texas and U.S. germplasm to enhance durable resistance to wheat rusts to enable wheat breeders to focus on improving yield potential.
Ibrahim participated in the development of genetic markers that enhanced and improved his breeding efforts. Among his collaborative efforts are molecular markers for greenbug, Hessian fly, wheat curl mite and wheat streak mosaic virus resistance. He has also validated and adopted 20 high-value KASP-based markers in the breeding program.
Ibrahim also manages and leads the Uniform Disease Nursery at Castroville. This nursery serves the entire wheat breeding community, both public and private, in ensuring that wheat cultivars available to U.S. and global producers are resistant to the latest biotypes of wheat leaf, stripe and stem rusts as well as oat crown and stem rusts.
He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Sciences of America and AgriLife Research. 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. He has also received 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.
Ibrahim is a member of the Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy and Sigma Xi Honor Society.