Renowned geneticist and plant breeder Charles Rick, whose half-century of research at UC Davis has forged a fundamental understanding of tomato genetics, has been selected to receive the first $200,000 Maseri Florio World Prize for Distinguished Research in Agriculture.
The award, created to recognize outstanding achievement in agricultural research, will be presented Nov. 11 in Washington, D.C. It includes $100,000 for Rick, a professor emeritus at UC Davis, and a matching amount for the institution or research program of his choice.
Now 82, Rick is known internationally among scientists and agriculturists as something of a modern-day Charles Darwin and Indiana Jones, all rolled into one. His research expeditions have taken him from the Galapagos Islands to the heights of the Andes where he has collected hundreds of wild tomato species.
In the wild tomatoes, Rick has identified 42 disease- resistance genes, many of which have been bred into commercial tomato varieties. He also established the largest and most valuable collection of tomato seeds in the world.
"Dr. Rick has been a research pioneer whose findings have had worldwide significance, said Clayton Yeuter, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair of the Maseri Florio World Prize Advisory Board. "His contributions have benefited almost every other vegetable and fruit crop grown around the world."