Recipient of the 2019 C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding

November 6, 2019

Matthew Breitzman is originally from Stillwater, MN. Spending time on his Grandpa and Uncles’ farm when growing up gave him a strong interest in agriculture. This background in agriculture led him to obtain his B.S. degree in Agronomy and Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Since 2015, Matthew has been a plant breeding Ph.D. student at Iowa State University, working in Dr. Maria Salas’ Sorghum Breeding program. His graduate research work focuses on improving biomass and grain yield in sorghum through two projects. The first project employed genomics and high-throughput phenotyping to identify genomic regions controlling novel sorghum architectural features. He recently published this work, Linkage disequilibrium mapping of high-throughput image-derived descriptors of plant architecture traits under field conditions, in Field Crops Research. The second project is dedicated to characterizing a sorghum gene previously identified as a determinant of seed number per panicle. To achieve this, he is utilizing RNA-seq and metabolomics to elucidate the mechanism by which the gene of interest determines seed number.

Matthew participated in organizing the R. F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium for three years, serving as a Co-Chair for the 2018 event. Outside of his time as a student, he serves on the Plant Sciences Symposia Series Student Advisory Council, providing input and guidance to Corteva Agriscience on management of the series. In his free time, Matthew enjoys cycling, camping, cross-country skiing, and spending time with friends.


  • The C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding was established in 1981 to recognize outstanding academic and research accomplishments by plant breeding graduate students in the Department of Agronomy.
  • C. R. Weber was a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University who made outstanding contributions to plant breeding, particularly in soybeans. The award was established by his family and friends to reward graduate students with the same goal for excellence to which he aspired.
  • A cash award of $500 will be given to students in the Department of Agronomy with majors in plant breeding who meet the qualifications.