STILLWATER, Okla. — Brett Carver, regents professor and wheat genetics chair in the Oklahoma State University Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, received the Eminent Faculty Award last month for his contributions to instruction and service.
“As leader of the Wheat Improvement Team, Dr. Carver has unparalleled success in the development of plant variety cultivars with a record five wheat varieties in 2020,” said Tom Coon, vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture. “These 2020 wheat varieties give farmers the best virus resistance package of genes to date.”
The Eminent Faculty Award honors one faculty member in the university system each year who has made sustained contributions to scholarly/creative activity, teaching and service, bringing honor and recognition to the university. The award includes $10,000 and a commemorative plaque.
“It was a great feeling because it shows there is recognition that we have different ways of accomplishing the same mission at this university,” Carver said. “The precedent has been set that the university recognizes all walks of life related to the land-grant mission.
“This was not just an individual award,” he added. “It’s a culmination of a lot of interactions and a lot of growing up over the years, and I didn’t grow up alone.”
OSU wheat varieties lead in planted acres of hard red winter wheat across the state. According to the March 2022 Oklahoma Variety Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service, for the fifth year in a row, the top four leading wheat varieties planted in the state were developed by OSU, with another four listed in the top eight.
“Dr. Carver is a sought-after speaker and collaborator and is known nationally and internationally for his work,” Coon said. “He easily transitions from speaking to highly technical wheat breeders and geneticists to working with lay people and farmers.”
Carver’s collaboration with colleagues in Eastern Europe resulted in the establishment of germplasm exchanges that benefit breeding programs and stakeholders throughout the southern Great Plains. His relationships with colleagues at the Romanian National Agricultural Research and Development Institute and Hungarian Agricultural Research Institute resulted in wheat varieties that are more adaptive to climate change and provide genetic resistance to disease and insects, reducing the need for pesticide use.
“When they find out I work for a university, the first question people ask me is, ‘What do you teach?’ I teach genetics,” Carver said. “I would never say I don’t teach. It just comes with the job as a wheat breeder. I have to step out of the scientific realm and not just educate about wheat but market the product we’re developing. It’s part of educating beyond the scientific and university community.”
Carver collaborated with the Wheat Foods Council to advocate for wheat and to educate the public on wheat products through a video series.
He served on trade team delegations for the U.S. Wheat Associates and the Oklahoma Wheat
Commission and has been named a Fellow in both the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. He is connected to multiple patents, trademarks and grants, and he has mentored graduate students who now work throughout the world in the field of crop science.
“I am not sure how many miles Dr. Carver walks in wheat fields in a typical wheat production season, but it must be equivalent to several marathons,” Coon said. “Brett Carver’s multi-disciplinary approach embraces our mission to help feed the world and embodies the land-grant mission of OSU. His dedication to his profession, service to OSU, contributions to science through the Wheat Improvement Team and highly successful student program make him an outstanding candidate for the Eminent Faculty Award.”
OSU Agriculture is dedicated to improving the quality of life of Oklahomans through science-based information and education. It is comprised of the Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Ag Research and OSU Extension.
Oklahoma State University