Plant breeder establishes million-dollar endowment

The James L. Brewbaker endowed fellowship will assist full-time graduate students who are studying plant breeding in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).

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December 3, 2013


Top photo: CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo presents CSSA Presidential Award to James L. Brewbaker. Bottom photo: James L. Brewbaker at College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ Waimanalo Research Station.
 
Veteran University of Hawaii at Manoa plant breeder and corn expert James L. Brewbaker has established an endowed fellowship with outright and estate gifts totaling $1 million. The James L. Brewbaker endowed fellowship will assist full-time graduate students who are studying plant breeding in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).
 
“Since the dawn of agriculture, humans have crossed plant varieties to obtain desirable traits and improve the quality and quantity of harvest. Few have done it as successfully as Dr. Brewbaker,” said Maria Gallo, CTAHR dean and director. “During a career spanning seven decades, he has made remarkable contributions to agriculture in Hawai?i and around the world through his own research and through the work of the dozens of agronomists and foresters he has trained. In establishing a fellowship program to support future graduate students, he ensures that his
legacy will continue for generations to come.”
 
Brewbaker expresses the opinion that plant breeding will be even more important in the century to come than it has since the discovery a century ago of Mendel’s research. He is convinced that the tropical setting and global perspective of University of Hawai?i will be at the center of such research and teaching, to which end his gift can hopefully contribute.
 
After 52 years at UH Manoa, Brewbaker is still very involved in plant breeding. He plants and harvests almost weekly and is said to maintain copious notes. A second-generation plant breeder, Brewbaker grew up learning about sugarbeet breeding from his father. he created Hawaii Foundation Seeds that manages collections of parent seed stocks –overseeing their collection, evaluation, purification, and propagation and providing seed samples and education to the community. Brewbaker was also instrumental in founding the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA), following his corn research in the 1960’s.
 
In recognition of his trailblazing work, he has won numerous awards, including the recent Crop Science Society of America Presidential Award. He s working on his 287th publication.