WSU Names New Spring Wheat Breeder

Michael Pumphrey
Michael Pumphrey. Click image for a high resolution version.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Michael Pumphrey, a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Manhattan, Kansas, is Washington State University’s new spring wheat breeder.

After visiting the Palouse to attend the Spillman Agronomy Farm in July, Pumphrey made his appointment official earlier this month. He will assume his new responsibilities in January 2010. He succeeds former spring wheat breeder, Professor Kim Kidwell, who is now associate dean of academic programs in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. He joins Arron Carter, who was named WSU’s new winter wheat breeder in July.

“Michael’s appointment completes a new generation of wheat breeders at WSU,” said CAHNRS Dean Dan Bernardo. “His work on emerging issues for the industry, like Ug99 stem rust, will help take an already stellar program to the next level.”

Rich Koenig, chair of the WSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, agreed.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of these searches. WSU is well positioned to continue a world class wheat breeding program initiated by Vogel and Spillman,” he said.

Pumphrey said he chose to join WSU because “this position offers exciting potential for excellence in spring wheat breeding and genetics, particularly for yield, production, and quality factors that have been difficult to address in the past.  I also look forward to being more on the front-lines of wheat improvement and interacting directly with growers and industry stakeholders.”

He earned his Ph.D. in plant pathology with a focus in genetics and molecular biology in 2007 from Kansas State University. Since then he has worked as a research geneticist enhancing hard winter wheat germplasm at the USDA ARS Plant Science and Entomology Research Unit. He also is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State.