> Your opportunity to directly impact the economic and social quality
of life for people around the world
> Engages both your brain power and your creativity, mixing a wide range of disciplines—genetics, biology, agronomy, statistics, bioinformatics, and business administration—to build on your unique strengths
> A severe shortage of qualified plant breeders nationwide means broad career choices for talented graduates
Plant breeding is the science of applying genetic principles to improve plants for human use. Plant breeding impacts the life of every individual in the U.S. because it involves the creation and manipulation of economically important traits in plants used for food, animal feed, fuel, fiber for clothing and wood products, and landscape aesthetics. Whether aimed at increased yield, disease resistance, nutritional qualities, industrial uses, or home beautification, plant breeding is basic to our quality of life in both rural and urban communities. Maintaining an adequate and nutritious food supply is foundational to our societal well-being and national security.
Plant breeding has been practiced since prehistoric times when crop plants were domesticated through selection for harvest attributes and increased productivity. Plant breeding has been enormously successful and beneficial to society. One example is the development and subsequent improvement of hybrid corn, which has taken average corn yields from 30 bushels per acre in the U.S. in the 1920’s to more than 150 bushels per acre in 2007, with projections of 300 bushels per acre by 2030.
However, further advancements in and through plant breeding are threatened by a dwindling supply of well-educated plant breeders to meet the needs of industry, academia, and government. It is estimated that there are approximately 2200 plant breeders in the U.S. Assuming that half of them will retire in the next 10-15 years and also assuming a 15% rate of job growth in the seed industry, 1,430 new graduates holding a Ph.D. and/or M.S. in Plant Breeding may be needed by 2020, an average of 110 per year. Less than 66 percent of the estimated 110 new entry level Ph.D./M.S. plant breeders needed per year to fill U.S. job vacancies are being produced by the eight primary U.S. institutions contributing to this pool.
The world NEEDS plant breeders. Are you ready?