Announcement by Laura J. Lawson, Interim Executive Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and Interim Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
I am pleased to announce that James (Jim) Murphy, extension specialist in turfgrass management, and Stacy Bonos, professor of turfgrass breeding, have been named director and associate director respectively of the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science, effective January 1, 2021.
The Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science builds on a distinguished history of research, education, and service to support the turfgrass industry in the state, nation, and world. Established in 1991, the center hosts annual symposia, field days, workshops, webinars, and other activities that are conducted by a team of approximately 30 faculty and more than 50 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff. With its strong foundation and international recognition, the center is positioned for continued excellence that serves the turfgrass industry into the future.
Please join me in extending sincere thanks to Bruce Clarke, extension specialist in turfgrass pathology, who has served as director of the center since July 1993, and William (Bill) Meyer, professor of turfgrass breeding, who has served as associate director since joining the faculty in 1996. Together, they have provided more than 50 years of combined and outstanding leadership of the center and its award-winning programs. Those who know Bruce and Bill already appreciate their contributions to making Rutgers’ turfgrass program an international leader. A few words about each of these individuals illuminate highly successful academic careers that shaped the center’s excellence and positioned its ongoing success.
Bruce Clarke (CC ’77, GSNB ’82) started his career at Rutgers as an undergraduate student and in 1982 joined the faculty as an assistant extension specialist. He never looked back, thriving as a researcher and taking on leadership responsibilities to advance the field. He held the Ralph Geiger Endowed Chair in Turfgrass Science from 2005 to 2011. His research focuses on the identification and control of biotic and abiotic diseases of cool-season turfgrasses. Bruce’s work on the biology and control of anthracnose, summer patch, and gray leaf spot, and best management practices for the control of these diseases are cited as some of the most important achievements affecting the playing conditions of golf courses worldwide. He is a New Jersey Turfgrass Hall of Fame inductee, recipient of the John Morley Distinguished Service Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and ASA and CSSA Fellow. His more recent accolades include the 2020 Nebraska Turfgrass Association Presidential Award and the 2016 USGA Green Section Award from the United States Golf Association.
Bill Meyer joined the center as its associate director in 1996 following a distinguished career in private industry as president of Pure Seed Testing, Inc. and vice-president of Turf-Seed, Inc. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading breeders of cool-season turfgrasses. His efforts have led to remarkable improvements to turfgrass germplasm and ultimately improved turfgrass varieties that have been used extensively, both nationally and internationally. He has multiple industry honors throughout his long and distinguished career, including the 2009 New Jersey Turfgrass Association Hall of Fame Award, 2014 Impact Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders, the 2015 Lifetime Membership Award from the Turfgrass Breeders Association, the 2020 USGA Green Section Award, and ASA and CSSA Fellow. In 2016, Bill was named the inaugural C. Reed Funk Endowed Faculty Scholar in Plant Biology and Genetics at Rutgers.
The center will continue to thrive and build its strong reputation under the leadership of Jim Murphy and Stacy Bonos, both of whom have been part of the center for many years.
Jim Murphy joined the Rutgers faculty in 1991 as an assistant extension specialist and was promoted in 2006 to extension specialist in the Department of Plant Biology. His research focuses on the development of environmentally-sound, best management practices in multiple turfgrass systems to improve stress tolerance, suppress disease, and reduce fungicide use. Jim is also well known for his studies on the traffic tolerance of turf and the long-term effects of root zone physical properties and topdressing practices on the performance of turfgrasses on golf courses, sports fields, and landscapes. He has served in leadership roles in the Department of Plant Biology, the International Turfgrass Society, and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). He was elected a fellow by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and CSSA, which also honored him with the prestigious Fred V. Grau Turfgrass Science Award. His outstanding leadership at NJAES has been recognized with the 2019 Extension Specialist of the Year Award and the 2012 Outreach Excellence Award from Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Stacy Bonos (GSNB ’97, ’01) joined the Rutgers faculty as an assistant professor in 2001 and was promoted in 2017 to professor in the Department of Plant Biology. Her research focuses on developing cool-season turfgrasses for enhanced stress and pest tolerance and environmental sustainability, as well as breeding switchgrass for use as biofuels. She is widely recognized for her work in classical breeding and molecular biology that have resulted in the release of hundreds of improved turfgrass cultivars over the past 20 years. In particular, she has had tremendous success developing cultivars of creeping bentgrass with dramatic improvements in dollar spot disease resistance. Well regarded in the turf industry, Stacy has been honored with the multi-state Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee inaugural Early Career Excellence in Plant Breeding Award, was named in 2010 by Sports Illustrated Golf Magazine to its “40 under 40” list, and was recognized by CSSA as its Young Crop Scientist in 2005 and a CSSA and ASA Fellow in 2016 and 2020, respectively.
Please join me in welcoming Jim and Stacy to their leadership roles at the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science and congratulating Bruce and Bill on their remarkable successes that established this world-class center and enabled its ongoing evolution and success.