World Soybean Research
for Lifetime Achievement
The success of soybean around the world completely depends on all the scientists who have worked tirelessly to improve soybean, optimize its cultivation, and develop uses for its seed. Starting with the WSRC VIII, the Continuing Committee started recognizing the contributions the most outstanding scientists working on soybean made over their lifetime. Each region now gets to select and honor its best scientists at each WSRC.
2017 Award Recipients:
Region I: Dr. Perry Cregan
Dr. Perry Cregan, former research geneticist and research leader of the ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., was a pioneer in the development of new DNA marker tools, such as SSRs and SNPs, used to identify, describe, and map soybean, wheat, and common bean genes for economically important traits, including resistance to pests and diseases, better tolerance to stresses such as drought, increased yield, and improved seed quality traits. His development of soybean genetic markers and the resultant maps were critical in providing a high quality sequence of the soybean genome. He was also instrumental in the development of a HapMap of the U.S. Soybean Germplasm Collection. He is a member of the USDA-ARS Science Hall of Fame and Fellow of several professional societies.
Region II: Dr. Leonardo Daniel Ploper
Dr. Leonardo Daniel Ploper has had a distinguished career on soybean research, technology development and extension since 1978. He developed the necessary germplasm to control outbreaks of stem canker and frog-eye leafspot. His research into the late season disease complex showed the importance of these diseases in soybean monoculture and no-till systems. Based his research, over 95% of the soybean area in northwestern Argentina receives at least one spray with fungicide leading to increased yield and seed quality. The additional profits of this practice have been estimated in several million dollars. Dr. Ploper devotes an important effort to cultivar development. He has led the most successful public breeding program in the country and has been the first one to release transgenic soybeans. Since 2011, he has been personally involved in the evaluation of advanced lines in South Africa. In addition to his research responsibilities since 2004, Dr Ploper is the Director of the EEAOC, the oldest agricultural research station in Argentina.
Region II: Dr. Álvaro Manuel Rodrigues de Almeida
Dr. Álvaro Manuel Rodrigues de Almeida is a Researcher at the National Soybean Research Center / Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa Soja). Since 1974, he has worked in phytopathology and has contributed to the development of 47 soybean cultivars by testing soybean lines for the genetic reaction against crop viruses and several other pathogens important for soybean cultivation. Studies coordinated by Dr. Álvaro Almeida identified the virus causing shoot blight of soybean and determined adequate management methods for its control, thus opening all of Paraná and São Paulo states to soybean cultivation. Today this crop is the main source of income in those regions. Over the last 43 years, Dr. Almeida has published 95 articles in scientific journals, 24 book chapters and has oriented or co-oriented more than 70 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students.
Region III: Professor Junyi Gai
Professor Junyi Gai, former director of National Center for Soybean Improvement and professor at Nanjing Agricultural University, has been devoting his career in soybean breeding and genetics, and germplasm research. He contributed to the collection and evaluation of 12,000 accessions from Southern China. Through his distinguished career, he has released numerous enhanced germplasm and authored a book of the “Pedigrees of Soybean Cultivars Released during 1923-2005 in China”. He established a soybean eco-region system by adopting the maturity group system to soybean production. He served as a director of the National Soybean Breeding Program for 15 years to direct soybean breeding across 24 institutions and contributed to the releases of 25 cultivars from his program. His major and minor gene mixed inheritance model for quantitative traits and statistical analysis procedure have been widely used in plant breeding. Over the last 50 years, professor Gai has published more than 500 research papers in peer-reviewed journals and trained or co-trained 180 graduate students. He is an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and distinguished fellow of several scientific societies.
Region IV: Dr. Kyuya Harada
Dr. Kyuya Harada was a professor in Chiba University, Japan. He served as a principal investigator of soybean genomic research team at National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) for three years. Currently, he is a project lead at Osaka University. Since 1980s, Dr. Harada has worked on genetic improvement of soybean protein, discovered genetic variants of many storage protein subunits and elucidated their inheritance. He developed a comprehensive information system for quantitative trait analysis using DNA markers, which has been widely used. The recombinant inbred line population derived from the cross between Moshido and Misuzudaizu that he developed was used by many soybean researchers to identify various genes for the traits of importance, such as flowering time and protein subunits. The soybean genetic map he developed led to generating a number of pioneering research results on soybean genomic research. He also worked on the analysis of the genomic structure of soybean using synteny with Lotus japonicus, and elucidated the mechanism of nodule formation by genome analysis. He has trained numerous graduate students who are active at worldwide soybean research.
2013 Award Recipients:
2009 Award Recipients:
Region I: Dr. Richard L. Bernard – USA
Dr. Bernard (1926 -2012) was recognized for his internationally recognized work in soybean genetics. He worked for 34 years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Soybean Research Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was curator of the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection and Professor in the Department of Crop Sciences. He is particularly known for exploiting genes from wild germplasm to improve US soybean.
Region II – Dr. Romeu Afonso de Souza Kiihl – Brazil
Dr. Kiihl earned the title of “Soy father in Brazil,” the “pioneer of Brazilian agriculture” and the “pioneer of soy in the Cerrado”. He is known for his development of cultivars resistant to cyst nematodes, combined with resistance to diseases such as Asian soybean rust.
Region III – Dr. Subramanyam Shanmugasundaram – India
Dr. Sundar, as he is known to his colleagues, was deputy chief of the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, where he expanded efforts to improve nutrition, reduce poverty and foster vegetable research and development. He led efforts to increase production by improving vegetable soybean varieties that are early maturing, disease resistant, and high yielding.
Region IV – Rex Tattersfield – Zimbabwe
Joseph Rex Tattersfield, a Canadian who adopted Zimbabwe, became Leader of the Oilseeds Breeding Team of the Crop Breeding Institute, and then became head of research and senior plant breeder Seed Co Ltd. He is known for his work to establish the seed industry in southern Africa.
Host country award: Professor Jinling Wang – China
Professor Wang began his career on agricultural education and crop genetics and breeding in 1941. He is known for his pioneering work on soybean photoperiodism research and established the soybean ecotype theory. He was the first to recognize the importance of wild germplasm and investigated wild and semiwild soybeans systematically.