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Xu receives Presidential Early Career Award

xu-seedlingsx400-1ogamd9President Obama Thursday named 105 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Kenong Xu, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, was one of only three agricultural researchers honored.

Based at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., Xu’s current research focuses on identifying the apple genes and gene networks that control characteristics such as tree form, resistance to stress and fruit color, acidity and shelf life.

This allows apple breeders to save time and money when they develop new varieties, because they don’t have to wait for apple seedlings to fruit to identify which of the progeny carry the traits they’re looking for. And they can discard undesirable seedlings at a very young stage, greatly reducing costs.

“Xu is demonstrating how we can apply new insights into how plants work to make them more adaptable to a changing world and evolving consumer needs,” says Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” President Obama said. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony this spring.

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