Ryan Gregory, a graduate Texas Tech crop sciences student from Rawls, recently received a $125,000 grant to fund his research into the cotton industry. The grant comes by way of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center.
These grants will aid the young researcher’s work on developing a new method for visually detecting biotechnology contamination situations in cotton crops. “I’m working to develop a screening method to visually identify glyphosate resistant plants,” he explains.
Gregory works along with Jane Dever, an associate professor at Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center near Lubbock. Dr. Dever’s work consists of developing new cotton varieties for organic production. Besides his personal research on contamination issues, Gregory assists professor Dever with all her activities in the field.
Ryan revealed that it was professor Dever who applied for the funding from the Seed Matters Initiative, which is part of the Cliff Bar Family Foundation, which aims to promote and fund organic seed research. Seed Matters seeks to improve and protect organic seed systems.
Professor Dever explains that Seed Matters focuses on three main areas: 1) Conserve crops’ genetic diversity; 2) Promote farmers’ roles in seed innovation; 3) Strengthen breeding programs. “These Seed Matters grants are really trying to level the playing field between traditional classical breeding and biotechnology research because we need both,” she adds.
Gregory is the first individual awarded with the grant without working on a food seed. He expects to use the new funding to pay for tuition and with living costs. Gregory believes that the money will allow him to focus on his research and earn his doctorate.
“That takes away all the financial stress that I would have otherwise so I can focus completely on my research and academics,” he added.
Dr. Dever noted that meeting the director of Seed Matters on a federal advisory council on genetics was a significant factor in receiving the funding, because doesn’t exist any kind of online application to apply for the prize. Seed Matters just find research’s and award the funds. Dever explain why this support is very important: “I completely support what the Seed Matters initiative goals are, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
This funding will not only help Gregory’s own investigations, but also his work alongside professor Dever: “It gives us the ability to continue to improve cotton genetics, which is important to not only the organic growers, but all the cotton growers,” commented Dr. Dever.
Ryan’s “ultimate goal” is to create a “better crop,” using genetics procedures, allowing a successful and efficient screening method to be used by all public cotton breeders.