PULLMAN, Wash. – Stephen S. Jones, winter wheat breeder and professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, has recently completed the “wheat” entry for the 2009 edition of World Book encyclopedia.
“It was very flattering to be asked, kind of a big deal and, of course, a popular source of information for school kids” said Jones. The entry will include Jones’ authorship and WSU affiliation. Aside from updating and reviewing existing information, Jones contributed discussion on the positive environmental aspects of wheat breeding and making wheat farming more environmentally friendly.
Jones first became interested in breeding wheat in 1981 while working for Don Sunderman at the USDA in Aberdeen, Idaho upon completion of his B.S. degree in Agriculture from California State University, Chico. Realizing what a great breeder Sunderman was and witnessing his devotion to the craft inspired Jones to pursue a career in wheat breeding.
Jones entered graduate school at the University of California Davis where he received a M.S. in Agriculture in 1986 followed by a Ph.D. in Genetics in 1991.
In addition to Sunderman, in recent years Jones has been highly influenced by the career of William Jasper Spillman, WSU’s first wheat breeder. “Spillman should be an inspiration for all of us, with his breadth of knowledge and science—beyond that of wheat breeding” said Jones.
Hired by WSU in 1995, Jones leads an active breeding program focusing on winter wheat varieties for traditional and organic systems, converting wheat to a perennial crop, and marker-based selection and non-GMO use of wild species for wheat improvement. He also teaches graduate courses in Advanced Transmission Genetics and the History and Ethics of Genetics, in addition to advising a number of graduate students.
His research has been mentioned in Audubon, Newsweek, New York Times, Gourmet, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Bill Nye the Science Guy’s PBS show The Eyes of Nye, CBS News, the documentary film Not For Sale, and other national and international news journals.