Soybean Lifetime Achievement Awards 

Region I: Thomas E. Carter, Jr. 

Dr. Thomas Carter, former Research Leader & Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS and Professor at North Carolina State University, has made significant contributions to the field of soybean breeding and genetics, with a career spanning over four decades. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Carter has published 170 scientific papers and released 66 soybean varieties/germplasm, making him a prominent figure in the field. Dr. Carter is a highly recognized leader in genetic diversity. His 113-page monograph on the subject is the first comprehensive review of diversity in soybean. He was the first to show evidence that advancements in U.S. soybean breeding was limited due to insufficient genetic diversity. His findings revealed that the common practice of mating closely related varieties was creating a genetic bottleneck. To address this issue, Dr. Carter spearheaded research efforts to incorporate Asian varieties into breeding programs, tapping into a reservoir of yield genes. This initiative resulted in a significant shift among U.S. soybean breeders, leading to the development of high-yielding lines, some of which are among the highest yielding lines in the South.  Dr. Carter's contributions extended beyond genetic diversity. He discovered the first field-proven drought-tolerant soybean and successfully utilized it to produce drought-tolerant progeny. This breakthrough led to the release of N8002, the first cultivar with drought tolerance traits. Additionally, Dr. Carter made important discoveries and validations of QTLs associated with the slow-wilting trait, bridging theoretical science with applied field research. Recognized for his outstanding achievements, Dr. Carter was named the USDA South Atlantic Scientist of the Year in 2010. His research paper defining and describing the genetic base of North American soybeans ranks among the top 10 most cited papers in Crop Science. Beyond his research, Dr. Carter has been a dedicated educator and mentor of 14 graduate students and 13 postdocs. Dr. Thomas Carter's contributions have significantly impacted soybean research and breeding efforts. 

(Istvan Rajcan and Zenglu Li)

Region I: Randall Nelson 

Dr. Randall Nelson, a former Supervisory Research Geneticist and Curator of the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection, research leader at Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and professor at University of Illinois, made extraordinary contributions to the field. During his 28-year tenure, he significantly expanded the collection from 12,964 to 22,232 accessions and successfully merged the Northern and Southern Collections in 1991. Dr. Nelson introduced computerization to the collection's operations, greatly enhancing efficiency. His leadership and vision led to the establishment of a core collection, enabling researchers to focus their studies. He pioneered the use of DNA markers to evaluate germplasm and played a crucial role in characterizing 20,087 annual accessions with SoySNP50K chips, marking the first extensive genotyping of a major collection. Dr. Nelson's efforts made the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection the most thoroughly documented and widely utilized collection worldwide. He excelled in utilizing exotic germplasm in breeding, driving the modern breeding efforts to enhance yield. As a result, 75% of public breeders and major commercial companies employ lines developed by him. His work is vital to the soybean industry, as the current gene pool relies heavily on only 30 ancestors, resulting in limited genetic diversity and impeding genetic improvement. Dr. Nelson's innovative approaches led to the release of 22 high-yielding lines derived from 30 accessions, profoundly impacting commercial soybean breeding in the United States. Furthermore, he explored the potential of perennial Glycine species and wild soybean in developing experimental lines that outperformed their soybean parent. Dr. Nelson's contributions to genetic diversity research are reflected in his 145 refereed articles and 5 book chapters. In summary, Dr. Randall Nelson's leadership, creativity, and innovative use of germplasm have made a significant and lasting impact on soybean breeding and genetic diversity research.

(Istvan Rajcan and Zenglu Li)

Region II: Ademir Henning

Dr. Ademir Henning, an accomplished Agricultural Engineer, has made significant contributions to soybean seed and plant pathology in Brazil. Graduating from the Federal University of Paraná, Brazil, in 1973, he pursued further education, earning a Master's degree in Phytopathology from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in the field of soybean seed pathology. Dr. Henning began his career overseeing improved soybean seed production in Paraná in 1974 and joined EMBRAPA (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), a renowned research organization, in 1976. From 1979 until his retirement in 2023, he developed important research projects and coordinated the Seed Pathology Laboratory at Embrapa Soja in Londrina, Paraná. Throughout his career, Dr. Henning conducted impactful research, leading to key public policies such as the official recommendation of fungicide for soybean seed treatment. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in modifying legislation by developing an alternative packaging for soybean seed storage, permitting the use of braided polypropylene (raffia) bags for seed storage and commercialization. Dr. Henning has been an active advocate of technology transfer, dedicating himself to the training and development of soybean seed professionals and students through the "DIACOM" course. Over the course of his career, he facilitated an impressive 71 theoretical and practical training courses on tetrazolium tests and seed pathology, both nationally and internationally. Dr. Henning's expertise extends to publishing scientific articles, documents, books, and book chapters on seed pathology and treatment. He mentored many undergraduate and graduate students in the field, fostering the next generation of experts. Recognized for his leadership, Dr. Henning actively participated in various soybean seed organizations, including serving as President of the Brazilian Association of Seed Technology (ABRATES) for two terms and holding positions in state and national commissions and sub-commissions related to soybean seeds.

(Ricardo Abdelnoor) 

Region II: Eligio Morandi (in memoriam)

Eligio Natalio Morandi, born in 1946 in Cañada Rosquin, Argentina, was a prominent figure in the field of Plant Physiology. He obtained his degree from the Faculty of Agronomy at the National University of La Plata and later joined the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the National University of Rosario, where he dedicated his entire teaching and research career to the Plant Physiology Department. He furthered his studies at Michigan State University. Throughout his career, Eligio demonstrated a strong commitment to mentoring. He trained and supported over twenty researchers, interns, and graduate students, providing them with knowledge, ideas, equipment, and manuscript reviews. He played a guiding and supportive role in their development, leaving a lasting impact on their paths. Eligio achieved national and international recognition in Plant Physiology. He served as Principal Researcher of the National Science and Technology Research Council (CONICET) and held positions as president and vice president of the Argentine Society of Plant Physiology. He authored and coauthored numerous articles published in prestigious journals and actively participated in conferences and scientific congresses. His academic focus centered on the ecophysiology of soybean. He was a founding member of PROSOJA, an organization that brought together soybean breeders and researchers in Argentina. Additionally, he played a crucial role in the Argentine Soybean Chain Association (ACSOJA) and represented Region II in the WSRC Continuing Committee. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Eligio was known for his loyalty and unpretentious personality. He approached research projects with unwavering optimism and determination, consistently overcoming obstacles. He had a remarkable ability to convince others that what seemed impossible could be achievable. Eligio's impact extended beyond academia; he was a true friend to those around him. Those fortunate enough to have worked alongside him cherish his legacy as a university professor who nurtured intellectual growth. He remained dedicated to his work until the end, and his presence and legacy will endure, transcending physical boundaries and defying reality itself.

(Daniel Ploper and Julio Ferrarotti)

Region III: Ruzhen Chang 

Professor Ruzhen Chang, the former director of the Soybean Specialty Committee in the Crop Science Society of China and a professor with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, made a great contribution to the research of soybean germplasm resources. He organized the collection of more than 5,000 wild soybean resources, which deepened the research on wild soybeans in China. He put forward a plan for the collection, preservation, and evaluation of more than 20,000 cultivated soybeans in China and introduced over 1,000 isogenic lines and genetic materials from other countries, making China the largest preservation country of soybean germplasm resources in the world. Professor Chang guided the establishment and utilization of the Chinese soybean core collection, which promoted the construction of the first wild soybean pan-genome and the excavation of a number of genes related to important traits. He also devoted himself to the innovation of soybean germplasm resources and created a number of elite lines and varieties with excellent characteristics. The soybean variety Zhongpin 661, which he created, has become the core ancestral parent in the soybean breeding program of the Huang Huai Region in China and has contributed to the development of more than 19 excellent new varieties. Professor Chang has won more than ten national and provincial awards, published 10 book chapters, and authored more than 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals over the last 45 years.

(Xiaobing Liu)


Region III: Philips Varghese (in memoriam)

 Dr. Philips Varghese, a Soybean Breeder and Scientist-D at MACS - Agharkar Research Institute in Pune, Maharashtra, India, has devoted his career to soybean research. After receiving his post-graduate degree in 1982 from Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, he began his career in the Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding at Agharkar Research Institute, Pune - a renowned institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Botany as an in-service candidate in 1994 from the same University. He has worked on many crops such as wheat, sunflower, gram, winged bean, and French bean, among others. Later, he focused on breeding soybeans for high yield, disease resistance, oil content, and heat insensitivity. During his tenure, he handled five major projects on soybean crop improvement. He developed and released seven high-yielding, disease-resistant, and non-shattering types of soybean varieties suitable for mechanical harvest. Some of his developed varieties include the high-yielding and popular 'MACS 1188', the drought-tolerant 'MACS 1281', the early-maturing, widely adaptable, and high-yielding 'MACS-1460' and 'MACS-1520', and the high-yielding, non-shattering variety 'MACS-1520' for the Central Zone of India. Recently, he successfully used molecular marker-assisted breeding to develop and release the next generation soybean variety 'MACSNRC1667', which is trypsin-free, benefiting both farmers and the soy-food industry. These varieties have been released for cultivation throughout India, leading to the popularization of soybean among farmers, and are being cultivated by farmers with high demand for their seeds every year. He was involved in the collection, evaluation, and management of soybean germplasm, as well as the production of quality nucleus and breeder seeds of soybean for supply to seed multiplying organizations in India.

(Gyanesh Kumar Satpute)

Region IV: Keisuke Kitamura 

Dr. Kitamura is a soybean researcher who worked at Iwate University, the Agricultural Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, and the National Institute of Crop Science, NARO, before becoming a professor at Hokkaido University in 2003. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked on improving soybean proteins at Iwate University and the Agricultural Research Center. As a result, he discovered many protein mutants, including a soybean lipoxygenase deletion mutant, and elucidated their inheritance patterns. He also bred a soybean cultivar called "Yumeyutaka," which lacks two of the three soybean seed lipoxygenases, and succeeded in producing soy milk without the beany flavor for the first time in the world. The results of this research later led to the creation of the first soybean deficient in all lipoxygenases. In addition to his work on protein improvement, he has also led research on soybean isoflavone. He found that seed isoflavone content varies among varieties and that isoflavone content varies significantly with temperature during the ripening period. His findings provide the theoretical basis for producing soybeans with high isoflavone content in cold climates. Furthermore, he worked at Hokkaido University to improve the functional components of soybeans, finding genetic resources with high α-tocopherol and lutein content and elucidating their mode of inheritance. Inspired by his work, many researchers around the world are now working on improving the composition of soybeans. By improving their composition, the uses of soybeans are expected to expand dramatically and contribute to improving the quality of human life. He retired from Hokkaido University in 2010, but his students and associates are now at the core of soybean research worldwide.

(Makita Hajica) 

Region IV: Arnold Schori

Dr. Arnold Schori has made valuable contributions towards a better adaptation of early maturity soybeans to Central European growing conditions. Arnold Schori was born in Switzerland in 1957. He received his PhD from ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich), Switzerland in 1994. His doctoral research focused on the contribution of genetic improvement to increasing cold (chilling) tolerance of soybean during the reproductive stage. Dr. Schori successfully identified genotypes capable of compensating for the loss of flowers and small pods after a cold spell through a reduced abscission rate and asynchronous development of lateral racemes. He demonstrated that the asynchronous blooming type is closely linked with tawny pubescence. This discovery led to the establishment of an effective system for selecting soybean varieties with cold stress tolerance. From 1985 onward, Arnold Schori worked in soybean breeding at Agroscope, the Swiss Confederation's center of excellence for agricultural research, located in Changins. Throughout his professional career, he had various responsibilities, including wheat and triticale breeding, as well as genetic resources management. Despite these additional duties, Dr. Schori managed to maintain a successful soybean breeding program that was originally initiated by Nestlé in 1981 in response to the global protein crisis of the 1970s. The program utilized starting materials that were partly sourced from Canada and Sweden which had their origins in far east Russia, where they had been adapted to the challenging conditions of Sakhalin, Hokkaido and Kourils, some west Pacific islands. Dr. Schori's soybean cultivars, characterized by their productivity and early maturity, have significant relevance in many high-latitude countries such as France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland and others. He also worked on soybean food quality and developed cultivars with reduced lipoxygenase activity for improved taste of soy-food products. His cultivars have made a substantial contribution to the development of soybean production and adaptation in central Europe and beyond. Furthermore, his selection methods for cold tolerance could potentially serve as a model for future approaches to developing abiotic stress tolerance, such as drought or heat tolerance.  

(Johann Vollmann and Claude-Alain Bétrix)