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DuPont fellowship funds address plant breeder shortage

December 5, 2007

In 2008, DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred seed business will provide the plant breeding and plant genetics program with a $60,000 grant, renewable annually for five years, to support two new graduate fellowships.

The funding will help the university address a critical shortage of Ph.D.-level plant breeders, says Bill Tracy, chair of the UW–Madison agronomy department.

“It shows that the industry realizes that plant breeding is a top need in terms of research training,” he says. “It is also an indication of the industry’s recognition that our program is one of the leading programs in the country. The five schools that are receiving these fellowships are the top plant breeding programs in the country.”

UW–Madison’s program in plant breeding and plant genetics leads the nation in the number of Ph.D. students trained over the past 20 years. There are currently about 50 graduate students enrolled in the interdisciplinary program, which includes faculty from the departments of agronomy, biochemistry, botany, forest and wildlife ecology, genetics, horticulture, plant pathology and statistics.

In addition to UW–Madison, DuPont will fund fellowships at Cornell University, North Carolina State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Minnesota. DuPont also will provide universities with $675,000 to support a competitive fellowship program for students with a confirmed interest in plant breeding research.