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Cornell plant breeder Steven Tanksley is winner of 2005 Kumho Science International Award

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Steven D. Tanksley, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, is the winner of the prestigious 2005 Kumho Science International Award in Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. The $30,000 prize is the world's largest in the field of plant molecular biology. The prize, awarded by the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology (ISPMB), is for Tanksley's pioneering work in genome mapping, comparative genomics and marker-assisted breeding of crop plants.

It is funded by the Kumho Cultural Foundation of South Korea. The award citation recognizes Tanksley's "series of key discoveries with implications for understanding of genomes and crop plant improvement…. Tanksley's work is also a foundation for many other discoveries and developments in plant molecular biology and crop plant breeding. In addition, his findings have the potential to address the problems of crop production in both the developed and the developing world."

Tanksley will receive the award and a crystal plaque before delivering a lecture at the Kumho Art Gallery in Seoul, South Korea, this summer. The Kumho Group and Kumho Cultural Foundation established the award six years ago to recognize outstanding scientists in plant molecular biology and biotechnology. Recipients are chosen by a special committee appointed by the ISPMB.

Considered one of the world leaders in plant genomic research, Tanksley developed the first molecular map of rice and tomatoes. By identifying genes in a wild rice ancestor, he has helped to increase rice yields significantly. He was the first plant geneticist to use map-based cloning of a pest-resistance gene in a crop plant. He also developed computer programs and databases for the management and analysis of molecular genetic data, and he develops and tests new breeding methods to use novel genetic variation found in wild ancestors of crop plants.

Tanksley received a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Colorado State University in 1976 and a doctorate in genetics from the University of California-Davis in 1979. He joined the faculty of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell in 1985 as an associate professor of plant breeding. He was named a full professor in 1994 and a Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the same year. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995. He has been the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award, the Martin Gibbs Medal of the American Society of Plant Physiology and Israel's Wolf Foundation Prize in Agriculture.