Dr Don Jones, Cotton Incorporated’s director of Agricultural Research – Breeding and Genetics, received the 2019 Cotton Genetics Research Award, presented by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee at the 2020 Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference, held in conjunction with the National Cotton Council’s 2020 Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
As part of the award, Dr Jones received a plaque and a monetary award. He has devoted more than 35 years to plant breeding and genetics. Since 2009, Dr Jones has been instrumental in the development and collaborative release of more than 50 public germplasm lines, resulting in six cultivars. Of those six, two have exceptional fiber quality – traits that are valued by the market and that help maintain cotton’s competitiveness.
Dr Jones led the development of a Universal Material Transfer Agreement that helped protect the intellectual property of public cotton breeders/institutions and later private seed companies. He also spearheaded efforts to identify cotton fields with appropriate levels of Fusarium wilt race 4 (FOV4) infection and coordinated the first nationwide screen for resistance – an effort that identified 11 breeding lines with possible resistance to this upland cotton production disease threat.
He has assembled the public/private sector consortium that developed and oversees Cotton Incorporated funding support for CottonGen, the cotton community’s genomics, genetic and breeding database. Jones also established the current Cotton Winter Nursery in Costa Rica following its move from Mexico.
One nominator, Dr B Todd Campbell, a USDA research geneticist, said Jones’ interpersonal skills have resulted in numerous examples of building successful research teams that led to major impacts for the industry.
The author of 74 peer-reviewed publications in the past decade, Jones received the 2017 Special Service Award from Texas A&M University and the 2019 Agronomic Industry Award from the American Society of Agronomy.