Assistant pulse crop breeder joins NDSU Research Extension Center
Tom Stefaniak has joined the NDSU North Central Research Extension Center near Minot, N.D., as assistant pulse crop breeder.
He works in conjunction with Kevin McPhee, pulse crop breeder in the NDSU Department of Plant Sciences in Fargo, on the development of dry pea, chickpea and lentil varieties that will do well in North Dakota growing conditions.
"This was a great opportunity to be involved in applied plant breeding," Stefaniak says.
Stefaniak, a native of Lexington, Ky., earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Michigan State University, and a master's degree in plant and soil science and a doctorate in crop breeding from the University of Kentucky.
Before joining NDSU, he was a research associate at the University of South Carolina and a postdoctoral scholar at Texas A&M.
"We're excited to have someone of Tom's caliber," says Jay Fisher, director of the North Central Research Extension Center. "He is a well-trained, experienced breeder in at least five different crops."
The North Dakota Legislature approved the establishment of a pulse crop breeding program at NDSU in 2007 because of the need for varieties specifically adapted to the state. North Dakota is one of the nation's top producers of pulse crops.
"We are very pleased with the hiring of Tom Stefaniak as the assistant breeder at North Central Research Extension Center," says Shannon Berndt, executive director of the Northern Pulse Growers Association. "He brings a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the pulse breeding program that was established at NDSU.
"To continue to meet growing pulse market opportunities, it is important that we are able to provide improved varieties that meet the environmental and quality needs of our producers," she adds. "The pulse breeding program is essential to the success and profitability of the pulse industry in our region."
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.