Stephen Smith, 2015 Lavoisier Medalist
Leader in Genetic Diversity, Pioneer in Molecular Analyses for Germplasm Security
Stephen Smith grew up on a 350-acre wheat and barley farm 100 miles from London, and traces his family's farming roots back to the 1700s. Farming wasn't a career choice - "I wouldn't have been a good farmer,'' he says. Smith considered a career in academia after completing his PhD in maize taxonomy and evolution at the University of Birmingham, but found he was better suited for laboratory research.
Smith is a pioneer in the use of molecular markers for improved germplasm security analysis. He is credited with the invention of the field, setting the standard for the entire seed industry. Over his 35-year career with DuPont Pioneer, he collaborated with colleagues and external experts to contribute over a hundred peer-reviewed scientific publications on a range of important topics, and continues to be a sought-after, internationally recognized expert on molecular marker technology for germplasm security and on intellectual property right systems for plant varieties. Strong intellectual property protection promotes meaningful improvements in agricultural productivity for societal benefits.
Retired from DuPont, Smith works with the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University and consults with the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), sharing his tools and techniques for germplasm security.
The Lavoisier Medal for Technical Achievement - named in honor of 18th century French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier - is the latest in a string of achievements for Smith. ASTA awarded him its Chairman's Distinguished Service Award for outstanding achievements to science and the seed industry in 2005. That same year, he was named a Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America. He was awarded the DuPont Pioneer Research Award/Henry A. Wallace Agricultural Revolution Impact Award in 2012 and named a DuPont Fellow in 2013.
"I'm very proud of what I've been able to do, but I wouldn't have been able to do it without the company's investments and the incredible collaboration of hundreds of people over 35 years,'' Smith says.