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UW Assistant Professor of Horticulture Receives Young Scientist Award

April 1, 2013
UW Assistant Professor Sadanand Dhekney received the 2013 Young Scientist Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology. (UW Photo)

Research and commitment to teaching have earned an assistant professor of horticulture in the University of Wyoming Department of Plant Sciences the 2013 Young Scientist Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology.

Sadanand Dhekney’s current research focuses on expanding grape production in Wyoming. He will receive the award during the 2013 In Vitro Biology meeting in Providence, R.I., June 15-19.

Stationed at the UW Sheridan Research and Extension Center, Dhekney also holds the E.A. Whitney Professorship in Agriculture position. The position, which implements the enhanced degree program with UW’s agroecology curriculum, is endowed by Whitney Benefits in Sheridan.

“I am very happy for Sadanand,” says Bret Hess, associate dean of research at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, which overseas four research and extension centers in Wyoming. “He is a very kind and genuine person whose research has potential to revolutionize plant breeding. It is a true honor to have such an award bestowed for his contributions to an emerging field of science.”

The Young Scientist Award is given to scientists who are SIVB members and conduct research in the disciplines of in vitro plant and animal biology. Nominations for the Young Scientist Award come from academia worldwide.

Dhekney was nominated by his mentor, Dennis Gray, professor of developmental biology at the University of Florida.

“I’ve been a society member for 12 years,” says Dhekney, whose research is based in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I first started attending meetings when I was a graduate student at the University of Florida. I’ve published a number of peer-reviewed articles in the SIVB journal In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology: Plant. I was happy that all my hard work has paid off.”

The SIVB awards committee strongly considers nominees’ research but also their commitment to teaching, he says.

"I’ve been involved with teaching and mentoring a number of graduate, undergraduate and high school students," he says. "I owe this award to the mentors and students I’ve worked with."

His research focuses on expanding grape production in Wyoming, determining varieties and rootstocks that will grow well in Wyoming’s challenging climate. He also works to improve existing elite varieties for drought and salinity tolerance using genetic engineering technology. He studies mostly wine-grape varieties and some table grape varieties. He also teaches classes.

“I started work at UW in 2012, and my research program studying grape production is relatively new,” says Dhekney. “A number of growers statewide are interested in the research, and this award will hopefully help raise more awareness of my programs.”

Dhekney credited the AES and the plant sciences department for their roles in providing facilities for his research.

“They deserve credit for any honors or awards that I receive," he says. “I’m also fortunate to collaborate with faculty members and students from Sheridan College."

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