NMSU’s Pratt receives prestigious crop science award
By KRISTIE GARCIA
For the Bulletin
When you listen to Rich Pratt talk about the importance of crops for future generations, you can’t help but hear the sincerity in his voice. Whether it’s addressing crop diseases, limited water resources, soil salinity or high temperatures, Pratt says many crop scientists are in service of mankind.
It was probably his passion and dedication through the years that ultimately led him to be named as the prestigious Crop Science Society of America fellow. He will officially receive the award in November.
Pratt is a professor of plant breeding and the director of the Cropping Systems Research Innovation Program at New Mexico State University. He joined NMSU in 2011.
The fellow award is the highest recognition bestowed by the CSSA. Recipients are nominated by their colleagues, and less than one percent of the society’s active and emeritus members may be elected fellow.
Ultimately, Pratt wants crops to thrive now, as well as in the future. He’s working with native crops and plant genetic resources from the Southwest to preserve and expand their role in desert cropping systems in the future.
Prior to his arrival at NMSU, Pratt spent 23 years at Ohio State University. His research findings there have allowed for new plant-breeding methods that will provide natural resistance to devastating diseases around the world.
In addition to plant disease, other factors play a big role in crop success. Drought, soil salinity and above-normal temperatures are challenges crop scientists face.
“Crop scientists are really trying to think ahead and trying to start working on the risks and the problems we’re going to encounter in the coming decades,” he said. “We are concerned about the present tasks we have to address, but we’re also trying to think forward, perhaps more so now than ever.”
Pratt also hopes to create more awareness about native crops and plant genetic resources in the Southwest. In fact, he’s organizing a symposium about these topics that will be held Nov. 8 in Phoenix in conjunction with the CSSA Annual Meeting.
Pratt, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Arizona and his doctorate from Purdue University, has helped secure almost $5 million in research grant funding since his arrival at NMSU.
Rich Pratt, director of the New Mexico State University Cropping Systems Research Innovation Program, inspects leaves on the corn crop at the NMSU Student Research and Education Gardens. Pratt was recently selected as the prestigious Crop Science Society of America fellow, the highest recognition bestowed by the CSSA.
NMSU PHOTO BY KRISTIE GARCIA