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.
Effective January 1, 2021, Stacy Bonos (GSNB ’97; ’01), professor of turfgrass breeding and associate director of the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science, has a new role as director of the turfgrass breeding program at NJAES. Stacy follows in the footsteps of William “Bill” Meyer, professor of turfgrass breeding, who has led the turfgrass breeding program for the past 25 years. We’re thrilled that Bill will continue his groundbreaking research as a faculty member on this dynamic turfgrass breeding team.
The Rutgers NJAES turfgrass breeding program is one of the largest and most successful breeding programs for cool-season turfgrasses in the world. Established in 1923 with its first turfgrass evaluation plots, the program saw exponential growth when pioneer C. Reed Funk, the first full-time cool-season turfgrass breeder at a university in the U.S., joined the Rutgers faculty in 1962. Under Bill’s leadership, the NJAES world-renowned turfgrass breeding program dramatically expanded the germplasm base of the cool-season turfgrasses for which the program is famous. Releases of landmark cultivars of perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and fine fescue have graced high-profile venues such as Central Park, the Rose Bowl, the White House, and championship golf courses.
A professor in the Department of Plant Biology, Stacy joined Rutgers as an assistant professor in 2001. She is well-known for her efforts 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. Stacy has been recognized with numerous awards during her career, including the Early Career Excellence in Plant Breeding Award from the Multi-state Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee, the Young Crop Scientist Award from the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees Research Excellence Award. She was named a Fellow by CSSA in 2016 and the Agronomy Society of America (ASA) in 2020.
As director, Stacy will have responsibility and authority for the turfgrass breeding program as a research and commercial enterprise. Stacy will also serve as faculty director of Adelphia Field Station. James (Jim) Murphy will serve as faculty director of Hort Farm II.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Bill Meyer for his leadership that has positioned the turfgrass breeding program for continuing excellence. Bill was recruited from a successful career in private industry to join Rutgers in 1996 to lead the NJAES turfgrass breeding program and serve as the associate director of the Center for Turfgrass Science. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading breeders of cool-season turfgrasses and has released more than 500 turfgrass cultivars during his 50-year career, including many landmark varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue. Bill’s long and distinguished career has earned him multiple prestigious awards, including being named a Fellow by CSSA and ASA, induction in the New Jersey Turfgrass Association Hall of Fame, the Impact Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders, the Lifetime Membership Award from the Turfgrass Breeders Association, and the USGA Green Section Award. In 2016, Bill was named the inaugural C. Reed Funk Endowed Faculty Scholar in Plant Biology and Genetics at Rutgers.
Please help me congratulate Stacy in her new role as director of turfgrass breeding and thank Bill for his outstanding leadership of the NJAES turfgrass breeding program.