Weaver, a professor in the Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, has dedicated his career to cotton and soybean breeding and genetics research, and his accomplishments have significantly enhanced the nation’s agriculture. His contributions in cotton have improved fiber quality and given cotton producers plants that are resistant to reniform nematodes and tolerant of high heat.
He began his career in the late 1970s publishing on cytoplasmic male sterility in cotton and then forged a successful career as a soybean breeder before re-starting a cotton breeding program in 2001 that has enhanced U.S. cotton.
One of his nominators, Jodi Scheffler, a USDA Agricultural Research Service geneticist and the previous year’s Cotton Genetics Research Award recipient, said that among Weaver’s accomplishments were his evaluation of the 1) effect of genes for resistance to reniform nematode on agronomic and fiber quality traits; 2) impact of exotic germplasm introgression on cotton agronomics; and 3) effect of selection and inbreeding methods on fiber quality traits.
He also discovered sources of resistance to reniform nematode and heat tolerance with upland germplasm.
Scheffler noted that Weaver not only has earned the respect of cotton breeders and geneticists in both the public and private sectors but has served “as an excellent advisor and mentor to the young men and women who will succeed us, and as a result of his leadership, hopefully surpass us.”
For example, a recently published study by one of Weaver’s graduate students demonstrated the effectiveness of a unique method of evaluating heat tolerance in cotton and led to the discovery of cotton germplasm lines with higher levels of tolerance to heat than the current adapted types. As a result of his extensive work on the genetics of cotton nematode resistance and management, Weaver was asked to write the book chapter entitled, “Cotton Nematodes,” for the recently published American Society of Agronomy Cotton Monograph.
Another nominator, Wayne Smith, a professor, cotton breeding at Texas A&M University, said Weaver has published in 11 scientific journals and been active in the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since assuming cotton breeding responsibilities. Weaver also was selected as a Fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.
In addition to his research success, Weaver also teaches, advises and mentors students and has won a number of teaching and advising awards at Auburn. In 2013, he was named Auburn’s Ralph “Shug” Jordan Professor of Writing.
John Beasley, head of Auburn’s crop, soil and environmental sciences, was among several scientists who nominated Weaver for the honor.
“It would be extremely difficult to find a faculty member who is more dedicated to students and their professional improvement than Dr. Weaver,” Beasley said in his letter of support. “And he does all that while still running a very successful cotton breeding program.”
Weaver holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in agronomy from the University of Georgia. He earned his Ph.D. in agronomy from Purdue University and was a graduate teaching and research assistant there before joining the Auburn faculty in 1981.
U.S. commercial cotton breeders have presented the Cotton Genetics Research Award annually since 1961 to a scientist for outstanding basic research in cotton genetics. The Joint Cotton Breeding Committee, comprised of representatives from state experiment stations, USDA, private breeders, Cotton Incorporated and the NCC, establishes award criteria.