MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US – World renowned wheat genetics and genomics expert Bikram Gill, a founding director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center at Kansas State University, has been named the inaugural holder of the endowed Bikram S. Gill Chair in Wheat Genetics. The chair was established in his honor from licensing revenues received by the Kansas State University Research Foundation — now Kansas State University Innovation Partners — and transferred to the KSU Foundation.

For nearly 50 years, Gill's research has focused on conserving wild and ancient grains and utilizing them in the breeding of modern wheat varieties, particularly bread wheats, that are more nutritious and disease-resistant and high-yielding.

Gill said his greatest contribution is founding the Wheat Genetics Resource Center with collaborating scientists at K-State and the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. The center provides germplasm to researchers and breeders around the world. The center's gene bank, which maintains more than 4,000 wild wheat species strains and 4,000 genetics stocks, and its laboratory offers opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to work with industry partners and academic scientists to develop new genetic research that quickly improves crop yield, quality and food security.

“It is so very fitting that Dr. Gill be recognized in this way,” said Ernie Minton, dean of the Kansas State University College of Agriculture. “The potential for beneficial trait discovery was made possible by one of Bikram’s greatest contributions to the public good, namely, the establishment of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center. I am confident the WGRC will contribute in a critical way to feeding a growing world population for decades to come.”

Gill, who grew up in the rural Punjab province of India, came to the plant pathology department in 1979 as an assistant professor and rose in rank to university distinguished professor in 1997. He founded the Wheat Genetics Resource Center at K-State in 1984. In 2018, he was named university distinguished professor emeritus. With his emeritus standing and as the inaugural Bikram S. Gill chair, Gill hopes to pursue science outreach and scholarly research, including reviewing articles and books on crop genetic resources.