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USU's Kevin Jensen Receives Top Governor's Honor

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

professor and Extension research geneticist Kevin Jensen

Kevin Jensen, a professor and Extension research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forage and Range Research Lab, in his lab at USU. Jensen is the recipient of a Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology.

Utah State University professor Kevin Jensen was awarded the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology Jan. 18 by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, the second USU professor to earn the prestigious award this year. [Editor’s note: Paul Israelsen of USU’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory also received the medal and was featured in an earlier story in Utah State Today.]

Jensen is a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forage and Range Research Lab at USU and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate. He has played a significant role in helping repair sites that have been damaged by fires and erosion through re-seeding disturbed wastelands with genetically improved plant materials.

Repairs include the reclamation of privately owned scorched landscapes and re-vegetating foliage in Milford, Utah, after a destructive fire in 2007.

His recognition at the capitol adds to an impressive resume that includes 10 years as editor of the Crop Science Journal and working as a fellow for the Agronomy Society of America.

“It was a tremendous experience to be surrounded by the governor, politicians, state leaders and other individuals well-versed and accomplished in their fields,” Jensen said. “It was a surprise. I had no idea I’d even been nominated.”

Jack Staub, a plant genetics professor who works with Jensen, submitted the nomination.

“Kevin Jensen has a keen eye for unique plant types,” Staub said. “He has an ability to see unique and novel plants and develop them. He has even gone to Russia and China to collect plant types that he works with now.”

Jensen pointed out that his success is the result of years of earlier work.

“We’re reaping the benefits of many of our predecessors who have gone before us,” said Jensen, “Doug Dewey, Kay Asay and Jerry Chatterton were instrumental in laying the foundation for my work.”

According to the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Governor’s Medal Award program was initiated in 1987 to recognize those who make career achievements and/or provide distinguished service that has benefited the state of Utah in the areas of science and technology. Specific criteria were developed to determine the significance of the contributions to the economic development of the state.

The Forage and Range Research Lab is made up of a multidisciplinary team that has improved and developed plant materials for the fields and rangelands of the western United States for more than 30 years. It is recognized as the international center of excellence for integrated research in breeding, genomics and ecological applications of perennial plants for dry, temperate environments. Research is accomplished through the combined efforts of plant breeders, molecular geneticists and ecologists.

“As a geneticist, the most satisfying thing I can do is develop plant materials and see them used,” Jensen said.

Related link:

USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory

Writer: Rhett Wilkinson, 801-603-6004
Contact: Kevin Jensen, 435-797-3099

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