Wayne Smith, Ph.D., professor, cotton breeder and associate department head in Texas A&M University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, was honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow award.
Smith has served as a cotton breeder for over 45 years, including more than 30 with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He has developed or co-developed and released 142 upland cotton germplasm lines and five cultivars, his nomination stated.
Smith joined AgriLife Research and Texas A&M in 1986 following 12 years as a cotton breeder with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. He is a native of Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University and the University of Tennessee.
As a cotton breeder, his nomination stated, he has improved lint yield potential; earliness of maturity; host plant resistance to whitefly, nematode, fleahopper and fusarium wilt; morphological traits such as smooth stems and leaves, okra leaf shape, glandless and sub-okra leaf shape; and improved fiber quality such as upper half mean length and improved fiber bundle strength.
He also developed and released the first Extra Long Staple Upland, ELSU, germplasm since the 1940s and probably the first ELSU germplasm without Pima introgression and germplasm lines with fiber bundle strength exceeding all current non-Acala cultivars in U.S., the nomination stated. Several of his germplasm lines have been and continue to be utilized by private industry for these traits.
In addition to his numerous contributions to plant breeding, Smith teaches one undergraduate class in crop production and two graduate-level classes. He has chaired or co-chaired to completion 27 master’s students and 17 doctoral students. He has 126 peer-reviewed publications, written one textbook, lead co-editor on four crop monographs, written or co-written 11 book chapters and has over 200 professional presentations either personally or as a coauthor.
Smith developed and directs Texas A&M’s Distance Plant Breeding Program that currently has 19 graduate students pursuing either a master’s degree or doctorate. The distance program has awarded 11 graduate degrees since its launch in 2013, the nomination stated.
Additionally, Smith has served the department and Texas A&M AgriLife as an administrator and through numerous committee assignments throughout his 34-year tenure including associate department head since 2001 and interim department head 2005-2006.
He has served the National Association of Plant Breeders, NAPB, through committee leadership of the education committee from 2011 through 2013, through executive committee leadership from 2016-2019, and as chair of the NAPB Strategic Planning Committee in 2019.
He currently serves the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee as the state representative for Texas and as secretary of the leadership team. He is editor for Journal Plant Registrations, and current editor-in-chief for Crop Science Society of America, where he leads editors for four journals and the Book and Special Publications committee. He also served as president of the National Association of Plant Breeders.
Smith has been honored as a Crop Science Society of America Fellow, American Society of Agronomy Fellow and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow. He also has been recognized by the National Cotton Council for Genetics Research and the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders as recipient of their Genetics and Plant Breeding Award. He also has Vice Chancellor and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences administrative awards.