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Larry Robertson, USDA plant geneticist, dies

Larry RobertsonFrom Gan-Yuan Zhong, Research Leader, USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit and Plant Genetic Resources Unit:

With deep sorrow I would like to let you know that Dr. Larry D. Robertson passed away the morning of June 21, 2016 at Matthew House hospice in Auburn, NY.  Larry was 64 years old.

He served as Geneticist/Vegetable Curator at USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Unit from 1998 to present, and was also Adjunct Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University.

He closely collaborated with many researchers from Cornell University and other institutions in training and demonstrations of vegetable seed production to small-scale farmers through multi-institutional projects funded by Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)-Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, OREI-Organic Seed Partnership, and the Initiative for Future Agricultural and Food Systems (IFAFS)-Public Seed Initiative.

He received his Ph.D. in 1980 from Iowa State University and spent his early career from 1980 to 1998 working overseas as a post-doc at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India and then as a germplasm curator/faba bean breeder at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo, Syria.

Larry had been undergoing cancer treatment for many years and showed us every day how to remain hopeful and strive for the benefit of others no matter how challenging the circumstances were.  He is survived by his wife Velvet and three sons Zebedee, Shane and Keegan, one brother, one sister and both of his parents.  A funeral service will be held at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Seneca Falls on Friday June 24 at 2 p.m.  Additional details will follow.  Please keep Larry and his family in your thoughts and prayers.


  1. Adi Damania says:

    Sad to learn of the demise of Larry, my colleague and friend at ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria. He was a very kind and jovial person when I knew him. He confronted all hardships of being stationed abroad with fortitude and did not shy away from adversity, like when he was out-posted to Morocco. He will be missed and remembered.
    Adi Damania
    Dept. of Plant Sciences
    UC Davis

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