ICAC Names Dr John Zhihong Yu the 2019 Cotton Researcher of the Year

For Immediate Release 

Date Posted: 26 August, 2019­­

Executive Summary

The 2019 ICAC Cotton Researcher of the Year Award:

  • Will be officially presented to Dr John Zhihong Yu, Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS, at the ICAC’s 78th Plenary Meeting in Brisbane, Australia, 2-5 December 2019
  • Is open to scientists from all disciplines of cotton production research, including ginning, fibre quality, and textile research
  • Is determined by an independent award panel, consisting of five experts from at least four countries, representing the major disciplines in cotton
  • Can only be presented to researchers from ICAC Member countries

ICAC Names Dr John Zhihong Yu the 2019 Cotton Researcher of the Year

The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) is pleased to announce that Dr John Zhihong Yu, Research Geneticist with USDA-ARS in College Station, Texas, is the 2019 ICAC Cotton Researcher of the Year. ICAC honours a leading cotton researcher each year by awarding a certificate of recognition, a shield and an honorarium of US$1,000. Dr John Yu was selected by an independent panel of five eminent experts from five different countries.

Dr John Yu has been working with the USDA-ARS since 1995. He earned his PhD in plant genomics and molecular genetics at Cornell University. He demonstrated outstanding dedication, with 36 years of professional experience, and received significant recognition as an international authority in cotton genomics for developing genetic resources that are currently being used by scientists worldwide. He made major contributions on cotton genomics and germplasm, including:

  • Genome mapping and sequencing,
  • Characterisation of gene pools, and
  • Identification of QTLs for molecular breeding.

Dr Yu developed the world’s first integrated genetic, physical and transcript maps of cultivated tetraploid cotton chromosomes with large insert DNA clones, molecular markers, and EST genes; and high-density cotton genetic maps of portable SSR and SNP markers. He has freely filled numerous requests from the global cotton research community for genomic resources and information. Dr Yu has received several national and international awards and published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, which have 8,945 citations. Dr Yu has also delivered more than 60 talks/seminars to the global scientific community.

Dr Yu demonstrated dynamic, outstanding organisational capacity in a leadership role to benefit the global cotton community. This includes his election in 2005 — and re-election in 2015 — by the global cotton community as Chairman of the International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI), the first international organisation to facilitate global collaborative research work on cotton genomics and genetics.

Dr Yu led international efforts to develop and release genome sequences for G. arboreum, G. raimondii, and G. hirsutum, among other cotton species. The research opens a new paradigm in cotton genomics that revolutionises genetic improvement of cotton plants through better exploitation of genetic variation otherwise buried in Gossypium germplasm. His discovery of gene-rich islands and sub-genomic roles in upland cotton provides critical information for genetic applications. His development of new concepts and methodologies for standardising characterisation of Gossypium germplasm makes it possible for cotton researchers worldwide to collaborate, relate and utilise genetic diversity data among cotton germplasm collections.


About the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
Formed in 1939, the ICAC is an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries. It acts as a catalyst for change by helping member countries maintain a healthy world cotton economy; provides transparency to the world cotton market by serving as a clearinghouse for technical information on cotton production; and serves as a forum for discussing cotton issues of international significance. The ICAC does not have a role in setting market prices or in intervening in market mechanisms. For more information, please visit www.icac.org.