May 23, 2023
Agronomy professor recipient of inaugural University of Maine innovation award

A University of Maine agronomy professor is the inaugural recipient of the Presidential Innovation Award, established this year to recognize the university’s mission of advancing learning and discovery through excellence and innovation.

Gregory Porter is the first recipient of the award, which will be given annually to a UMaine or UMaine Machias faculty member or team that has translated research discoveries and scholarly activity into products or services that have resulted in economic impact and/or significant social and cultural benefit in Maine and beyond, according to a news release.

Porter, a UMaine alumnus, has been faculty member for 38 years and has served as project leader for the university’s Potato Breeding Program since 2007.

Gregory Porter is the inaugural recipient of the University of Maine’s Presidential Innovation Award. Photo: Provided

The program, which involves student researchers at UMaine research facilities in Orono and Presque Isle, creates new potato varieties that provide improved quality and marketing opportunities for growers while helping to solve pest management problems.

Porter’s research prioritizes resistance to diseases such as late blight, scab, and Potato Virus Y, and uses DNA-based markers to help select potato varieties with resistance to key potato pests.

In addition, his work on crop rotations, soil management and supplemental irrigation has helped further understanding of cropping systems that provide high yields and excellent crop quality while protecting and building the soil.

Nutrient management research, particularly potassium fertilization, has led to a greater understanding of the most efficient use while maintaining or improving crop quality in potato production systems, according to the release.

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