Dr. Lamkey, chair of the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University has been selected as the 2020 National Association of Plant Breeders Public Sector Plant Breeding Impact Award. Dr. Lamkey earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University in plant breeding and genetics. Dr. Lamkey provides leadership and direction to the department in the areas of education, research, and extension. As one of his support letter notes: “Under Dr. Lamkey, the department has maintained its reputation for excellence and has added new initiatives in teaching and research that are helping it evolve in the future as a center of learning, knowledge and service.” (James Holland, USDA-ARS). Another adds: “As a professor, mentor, scientist, and administrator he has had an immeasurable impact on many lives and careers related to plant breeding and other agricultural spaces over his tenure.” (Roger Weyhrich, Bayer Crop Science)
Dr. Lamkey advocates for and sets piorities for the academic and research portfolio of the department through shared governance with the faculty. In cooperation with Associate Dean for Extension and Outreach in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he sets priorities for extension and outreach in crops, soils, and climatology. Dr. Lamkey represents the department as he interacts with the public in Iowa and at the national and international level. He is responsible for understanding and articulating the broad education, research, and extension capabilities of faculty in the department. Dr. Lamkey is responsible for overseeing the departmental budget, evaluating faculty, setting salaries, hiring faculty, and providing faculty, staff, and students with the support they need to be successful. He provides leadership in the expenditure of earnings from endowments, which total around $2.5 million per year.
Dr. Lamkey’s research program focuses mainly on corn breeding with an emphasis on the quantitative genetics of selection response, inbreeding depression and heterosis. His impact in this area is profound. According to one of his support letters: “Without Kendall’s work, there would be gaping holes in the plant breeding literature, especially in our general understanding of recurrent selection, results from selection, breeding program design, and inbreeding and heterosis.” (Jianming Yu, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University). Dr. Lamkey has served on the advisory board for Makerere University Regional Center of Excellence in Crop Improvement (MaRCCI), Kampala, Uganda since 2018 and been involved in the Gates-funded project Plant Breeding Education for Africa (PBEA). One of Dr. Lamkey’s current interests is cropping systems models such as APSIM and how to account for genetic changes in cultivars over time in these models.
Dr. Lamkey has been major advisor for 18 Ph.D. students and 10 M.S. students and has served on the program of study committee for more than 80 M.S. and Ph.D. students, one of whom states: “He has directly trained or served on the committee for countless students who now serve in many capacities of our plant breeding industry and academia.” (Roger Weyhrich, Bayer Crop Science).
Dr. Lamkey has authored or co-authored 81 refereed journal articles and numerous papers in conference proceedings, book chapters, published abstracts, and technical research reports. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America and has served as an associate editor, technical editor, and editor for Crop Science. Summing up Dr. Lamkey’s impact on plant breeding, another former student concludes: “As I look back upon my graduate school days with Kendall, three things stand out in my mind: his encouragement of me as a scientist, his emphasis on foundational knowledge, and his proclivity for vision.” (Aaron Lorenz, University of Minnesota).