Stephen Baenziger, professor of agronomy and horticulture, was presented with the Prem S. Paul Innovator of the Year award during the NUTech Ventures 2017 Innovator Celebration Nov. 9 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.
The award recognizes an individual who exemplifies innovation and entrepreneurship by advancing novel research into significant commercial utilization.
Baenziger’s long and distinguished career and leading-edge program in wheat and small grain breeding and germplasm development has resulted in numerous wheat, barley and triticale varieties. Many wheat varieties seen across Nebraska were developed at the University of Nebraska.
“Historically it’s 60 to 70 percent. So basically if you see a wheat field out in Nebraska, over half — one out of every two — comes from us and it’s usually much more like six or seven out of 10. So we’ve had a significant impact,” Baenziger said.
Drought is a major limitation to small grains production in the Great Plains and is a focus of Baenziger’s research. A world leader in wheat breeding, he leads the way in developing technology for improving breeding methodology with an emphasis on biotic and abiotic stress tolerance.
He is also a gifted teacher. Through his research, teaching and mentoring, his students are well prepared to meet future demands of increased food production.
Baenziger holds a doctorate and master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics from Purdue University. He began his career in 1976 and joined Nebraska’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture in 1986.
The Prem S. Paul Innovator of the Year award is in honor of former Vice Chancellor Prem Paul, who died Sept. 2, 2016. For 15 years, Paul enthusiastically supported research and innovation on campus including technology commercialization at NUtech Ventures. In addition to the award winner receiving a personal award, each year going forward, the name of the recipient will be added to a plaque that will be displayed in the NUtech Ventures office.
Other awards presented during the NUTech Ventures 2017 Innovator Celebration include:
Breakthrough Innovation of the Year — Matthew Jockers, associate professor of English, for the Bestseller Code, which is a new method to analyze manuscripts that has the potential to impact the publishing industry. Jockers developed the technology with Jodie Archer. Learn more about this award.
Emerging Innovator of the Year — Yuguo Lei, assistant professor of chemical engineering, for the invention of novel devices for cell manufacturing that can be used for personalized medicine. Learn more about this award.
Startup Company of the Year — GC Image, founded by Stephen Reichenbach, professor of computer science and engineering. GC Image provides industry-leading software solutions for visualizing, analyzing and reporting on data from comprehensive gas chromatography systems. Learn more about this award.
Commercialization Partner of the Year — Awarded to Nebraska Crop Improvement Association and NuPride Genetics, led by Steve Knox. Learn more about this award.
NUtech Ventures is the university’s intellectual property and technology commercialization unit. NUtech’s mission is to facilitate the commercialization and practical use of innovations generated through Nebraska research activities to promote economic development and improve quality of life.