Jianming Yu Received the Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award

March 2, 2018

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Jianming Yu is considered one of the top scientists in the world in quantitative genetics, which integrates plant breeding, genomics, molecular genetics and statistics.

His goal is to develop and implement new strategies and methods in trait dissection and crop improvement. His work has earned him the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award.

His success is driven by constantly asking questions.

"I always try to connect my research with those classical questions that still need to be answered," said Yu, Professor and Pioneer Distinguished Chair in Maize Breeding in agronomy. "I have gradually developed a systematic knowledge base to the point where I can see the connection between a single project and a larger context."

Yu's research also thrives on gathering information from others, whether it's colleagues or students. He enjoys teaching graduate students because he gets to learn alongside them.

"I call it my happy hour," Yu said. "I bring questions for students to each class but I don't write down my answers ahead of time, so I am forced to think each time I teach the class."

Yu said student questions sometimes lead to research to further understand the topic.

"Some students ask questions that they think are naive and simple, but they actually help us to think deeper," Yu said. "That is why I think all questions are of value."

Yu enjoys challenging students to think both critically and creatively, but student success is what Yu values most.

"It's not only showing them how to do things and sharing the knowledge," Yu said. "It's about being able to cultivate student's passions. It's very rewarding."

Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will present awards to faculty and staff on March 8 at its Spring-Semester Convocation and Awards Program in the Memorial Union.

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