Cantrell, who currently serves as vice president, agricultural research for Cotton Incorporated, in Cary, N.C., received $500 in recognition of his efforts.
U.S. commercial cotton breeders have presented the Cotton Genetics Research Award for the past 40 years to a scientist for outstanding basic research in cotton genetics. The Joint Cotton Breeding Policy Committee comprised of representatives from state experiment stations, USDA, private breeders and the National Cotton Council establishes criteria for the award.
“In the last few years, Dr. Cantrell has been a driving force in cotton genetics, in his own research program and in collaboration with major cotton groups across the U.S. and abroad,” said nominator Thea Wilkins, a professor of cotton functional genomics at the University of California-Davis. “Moreover, his significant contributions to the cotton scientific community are having a profound impact on U.S. cotton research that will define cotton improvement programs for decades to come.”
Wilkins noted that while Cantrell was a professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU), his research, among other achievements, contributed to scientists’ understanding of the structure and function of the genome. He also endorsed the use of molecular markers to facilitate selection for the improvement of cotton fiber quality and germplasm enhancement.
Cantrell has been a key player in the global cotton community, having chaired the International Cotton Genome Initiative. He recently formed and administers Cotton Incorporated’s Cotton Genetics & Breeding Initiative that invests significant new funding to bolster cotton improvement programs. He also launched an incentive program called the Cotton Incorporated Fellows Program to train the next generation of cotton breeders.
Cantrell was a professor at North Dakota State University from 1980 to1990 before joining the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at NMSU. He served there until 2001 when he joined Cotton Incorporated, where he administers an agriculture research budget of $8 million of which $2 million is allocated to cotton improvement research through genetics, breeding and biotechnology.
Cantrell also serves as a technical advisor to the NCC’s Fiber Quality Task Force and serves on its Cotton Winter Nursery Steering Committee.
Cantrell earned a B.S. from Texas Tech University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in plant genetics/breeding from the University of Minnesota. Among professional societies he belongs to are the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.