COLLEGE STATION – Dr. Wayne Smith, Texas A&M University department of soil and crop sciences graduate coordinator, associate department head and cotton breeder, was honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in the Administration category.
The Vice Chancellor awards program was established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife. Smith was presented his award Jan. 9 in College Station.
Smith has contributed to the administrative leadership of the soil and crops department since 2000, his nomination stated. He conducted cotton breeding research at the University of Arkansas from 1974 to 1986, when he joined the faculty at Texas A&M.
He served as interim department head in 2005 and 2006. As associate department head, he oversees the academic activities of 146 undergraduate students and 140 graduate students with majors in agronomy, soil science and plant breeding.
Additionally, Smith works closely with the department head in managing over $4 million of assets associated with the academic programs, the nomination stated.
“What sets Wayne Smith apart as an academic innovator in our department are his efforts in developing professional agronomists, soil scientists and plant breeders,” said Dr. David Baltensperger, head of the Texas A&M soil and crop sciences department in College Station. “He developed and directs our Distance Plant Breeding Program that currently has 22 graduate students pursuing either master’s or doctoral degrees in plant breeding across the soil and crop sciences and horticultural sciences departments.”
This distance plant breeding program is the first and only Texas A&M distance research graduate degree and the only distance research plant breeding graduate degree offered by a land-grant university, Baltensperger said.
Additionally, he said, Smith solicited and received permission from Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to offer continuing education courses for individuals who want and need information about plant breeding but are not interested in another degree. This program has over 70 individuals participating in 165 module units.
Smith also teaches the undergraduate course Crop Production and graduate course Plant Breeding I, plus team-teaches Host Plant Resistance.
Smith initiated a Plant Breeding Bulletin in 2006 that today is distributed monthly to over 1,000 recipients worldwide. This bulletin recognizes the accomplishments of plant breeding graduate students and faculty at Texas A&M and Texas A&M AgriLife.
In addition to his faculty and administrative duties, Smith has served as a cotton breeder for over 40 years, including 30 years with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He has developed or co-developed and released 128 upland cotton germplasm lines and four cultivars.
His latest research accomplishments involve the development and release of upland cotton with fiber quality characteristics that exceed those found in any commercial cultivars. Collaboratively with other faculty, Smith identified over 400 genes involved in fiber length and over 1,000 genes involved in the development of fiber strength.
He has 123 peer reviewed publications, one textbook, is lead/co-editor on four crop monographs. He has also written or co-written 11 book chapters, and has 192 professional presentations, either personally or as a co-author.
Smith is the editor-in-chief of the Crop Science Society of America, where he leads editors for four journals and the Book and Special Publications committee. He also serves as president of the National Association of Plant Breeders.
Smith has been honored as a Crop Science Society of America Fellow, American Society of Agronomy Fellow and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow. He also has been recognized by the National Cotton Council for Genetics Research and the Nation Council of Commercial Plant Breeders as recipient of their Genetics and Plant Breeding Award.