Sean M. Thompson1, Matthew P. Reynolds2, Dirk B. Hays3, Cristy Gosney4, Gary Burniske4 and Gebisa Ejeta4, (1)Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (2)Global Wheat Program, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Houston, TX, Mexico (3)Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (4)Center for Global Food Security, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
When asked how do you become a successful wheat breeder, Dr. Norman E. Borlaug replied, “Well, you go to the field. You go to the field again, and then you go to the field. When the wheat plants start to talk to you, you know you have made it.” The Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom were awarded to Dr. Borlaug for saving the lives of over one billion through his efforts. An example of how Borlaug’s legacy continues today is through the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Program at Purdue University’s Center for Global Food Security, providing graduate students the opportunity to “go to the field” and become successful scientists in their own right. Funded by USAID, the Borlaug Fellowship provides graduate students the opportunity to collaborate with agricultural scientists in developing nations. The program fosters connections between scientists internationally, while furthering research and developing community around important agricultural themes, such as production, natural resource conservation, and development. With a focus on interdisciplinary and cross-cultural experiences, students benefit from the ability to practice their science on the ground in an international setting, preparing them to become important members of the global scientific community. Here doctoral candidate Sean M. Thompson of Texas A&M University was given the opportunity to “go to the field” during the 2013 field season in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The primary objective of Thompson’s project, Estimating Wheat Root Biomass Using Ground Penetrating Radar, is to define the capability of the non-destructive high-throughput tool to phenotype below ground crop biomass, in the context of higher yield and quality stability in wheat during drought stress. Research was conducted in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico at CIMMYT’s Norman E. Borlaug Experiment Station.