As the need for plant breeders increases, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board has again stepped up to meet the challenge by providing support for six additional fellowship years for graduate students in the University of Illinois Plant Breeding Center. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board previously funded four fellowship years for plant breeding students at the U of I.
“The intent of this resource is to increase the number of master’s degree and Ph.D. graduates trained in plant breeding and crop improvement,” said Rita Mumm, director of the U of I Plant Breeding Center. “There is a growing concern about the dwindling supply of well-educated plant breeders to meet the needs of industry, academia, and government.”
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board’s additional support will fund two Ph.D. students for three years each or three master’s degree students for two years each, Mumm added. This fund has been designated for students studying maize improvement, including value enhancement, improved efficiency, and profitability.
Scott Stirling, Illinois Corn Marketing Board chairman, said, “We’re looking at the world’s population doubling soon, which means we’ll have more mouths to feed and presumably, less land on which to grow the food. We need to be investing in opportunities for corn plants to better use nutrients and water. Those plants will be better equipped to handle environmental stressors. An excellent place to invest in this future need is in human capital, in the people that will be researching and experimenting to provide the most advanced seed to farmers. That’s why we’re interested in supporting the University of Illinois and their plant breeding fellowships.”