Phillip Vines, doctoral candidate in plant breeding and genomics at Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, has been selected the winner of the 2019 Award of Excellence from the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation. The award is given to outstanding doctoral candidates who, in the final phase of their graduate studies, demonstrate overall excellence throughout their doctoral program in turfgrass research, and comes with a grant of $35,000 from the foundation.
In making the announcement, Musser International Turfgrass Foundation President Frank Dobie said, “The application qualifications are very high for the doctoral candidates that apply for the Foundation’s Award of Excellence, so all of the applicants are of the highest caliber. We strive to select the one candidate that we feel is the best of the best.”
“It is an extreme honor to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Vines. “The list of past recipients is an incredible collection of leading scientists in our field. I am excited about my future in the turfgrass industry and my goal is to exemplify the true meaning of the Award of Excellence, which was first demonstrated by Professor Musser.”
Vines wrote his dissertation on “Molecular Breeding Tools for Improving Morphological Traits and Biotic and Abiotic Stress Responses in Perennial Ryegrass.” After graduation, he plans to become an assistant professor of plant breeding where he can focus on developing improved turfgrass cultivars for use throughout the world.
He completed a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in plant pathology from Mississippi State University. Additionally, he received an additional master’s degree in statistics from Rutgers.
The criteria for selecting award recipients for the Musser Award of Excellence include graduate work, academic record, dissertation, publications, leadership and extracurricular activities. To date, awards have been granted to doctoral students from universities including; Arizona, Auburn, Cornell, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
To learn more about Professor H. Burton Musser, the foundation’s history and past recipients of the award, visit www.musserfoundation.org.
Editor’s note (6/3/2019): Vines received his doctoral degree in turfgrass breeding from Rutgers in May and has accepted a position as assistant professor (non-tenure track) in Turfgrass breeding at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.