Dr. Dave Van Sanford, Professor and Wheat Breeder, has been awarded a 2018-2019 University of Kentucky Research Professorship.  This award recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in research and creative work that addresses scientific, social, cultural, economic or health challenges in our region and around the world.

The University Research Professorships were established by the UK Board of Trustees in 1976 to recognize outstanding research achievement.  The professorships program recognizes excellence across the full spectrum of research, scholarship and creative endeavors within each college at UK.  College leadership developed criteria for excellence within their area of expertise, and then nominated faculty who excelled at these criteria. Each University Research Professor receives a one-year award of $10,000 to be used to further their research, scholarship and creative endeavors.

Dr. Van Sanford joined the Plant and Soil Sciences Department in 1981. His research focus is breeding and development of soft red winter wheat varieties for Kentucky and the mid-south. His team is working to breed varieties resistant to Fusarium head blight, a devastating disease of wheat in Kentucky and worldwide. The wheat breeding team also studies the genetic basis of nitrogen utilization in order to breed high-yielding varieties that require less nitrogen fertilizer, as well as the impacts of climate change through warming studies that identify genotypes with resilience to warming. Van Sanford’s team has recently collaborated with a local baker and grower to try and produce high protein bread wheat in central KY in a sustainable manner. Van Sanford has published numerous refereed journal articles, and has developed a number of wheat, barley and oat varieties. He has served as Chair of the National Wheat Improvement Committee and the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. He was elected Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America in 2011 and received the 2014 TP Cooper Award for distinguished achievement in research from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.