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USDA Rice Scientist Wins Early Career AwardBy Ben Hardin
February 7, 2001
Stuttgart, Ark., Feb. 7Thomas H. Tai, a rice geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agricultures Agricultural Research Service (ARS) here, has won an agency award for his scientific leadership in molecular genetics.
ARS named Tai as an Early Career Research Scientist of 2000. Since joining the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center (DB NRRC) here in 1999, Tai has applied his molecular genetics expertise to several issues of interest to the U.S. rice industry--yield, grain quality, pest resistance and stress tolerance.
He now spearheads the ARS rice functional genomics program closely interacting with three additional new DB NRRC scientists specializing in different aspects of molecular biology and with two University of Arkansas rice breeders. The University provides a full-time technician to work with him.
Dr. Tai, who received his doctorate in plant biology in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley, first researched molecular genetics of pepper and reported the results in journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Theoretical and Applied Genetics.
In 1996 and 1997 he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Center, Norwich, United Kingdom. Then he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University, where his experience in the rice molecular genetics laboratory of Dr. Susan McCouch gave him a jump-start on his assignment at DB NRRC.
Tai was selected as the top young scientist in the ARS Southern Plains Area. He is one of eight early career scientists of the year to be recognized in a February 7 awards ceremony at the agencys Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland. Each scientist will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding.
Early career awardees have done research of potentially major impact while being with ARS 7 years or less and have received their highest academic degrees in the last 10 years.
A native of Canal Point, Florida, Tai received a bachelors degree from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.