University of New Hampshire professor emeritus and UNH Agricultural Experiment Station research scientist, Dr. J. Brent Loy, received Eastern States Exposition’s 2020 New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers award. The honor was bestowed at the ESE annual meeting, May 21, with a special presentation made to Dr. Loy at his home in Epping, New Hampshire, by Agricultural Adventurers committee chair and ESE trustee, Stephen H. Taylor, and ESE President and CEO, Eugene J. Cassidy, on June 8.
Dr. Loy’s experiment station-funded work, which has largely taken place at the Kingman Research Farm, Woodman Horticultural Research Farm and Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, has resulted in his developing more than 80 new varieties of squash, pumpkins, gourds and melons during his career. His work represents the longest squash and pumpkin breeding program in North America and his seed varieties are sold in seed catalogs throughout New England and the world.
“Receiving this award is a humbling, moving experience because it involves agriculture and it has been my privilege to have contributed to agriculture,” Dr. Loy said.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University in Horticulture, a Master’s Degree and PhD from Colorado State University in Genetics and Horticulture. His primary teaching responsibilities are in Plant Genetics, Plant Breeding, Vegetable Crops and Crop Production Technologies.
Dr. Loy’s crops are nutrient-rich, his seeds and germplasm research have influenced the harvest of countless farmers while delighting home gardeners and consumers alike. He has served as a professional mentor to scores of undergraduate and graduate students throughout his career.
Rob Johnston, founder and chairman of Johnny’s Selected Seeds of Maine, attributes much of his success to his association with Dr. Loy. Johnston said, “My association with Brent was critical to my own plant breeding work. Brent is my senior as a geneticist, as a plant physiologist, and as a practical plant breeder. To a degree, I can attribute my own success to the knowhow and inspiration that has rubbed off on me during our thirty-some years of working together.”
Otho Wells, UNH professor emeritus, said, “Outstanding varieties of melons, pumpkins, and squashes developed by Dr. Loy are currently found in just about every seed catalog printed, although his name is rarely mentioned. He is a very humble person, despite his many achievements.”
In addition to his vast contributions to teaching, research and service at UNH, Dr. Loy has mentored many students who now serve as mentors and educators in their communities and colleges. As a collaborative researcher extraordinaire, Dr. Loy has shared his work at the county and state levels. He has collaborated with Cooperative Extensions to widely disseminate his research, and its practical applications.
Loy has been awarded numerous grants, licenses and royalties in recognition of his cutting edge, extensive research in plant breeding development and plasticulture – the use of plastics in agricultural systems. This innovative research has contributed to the development of new varieties of crops suited for New England and has enhanced farm capacity and viability via enhanced growing season extension. As of 2017, he was responsible for 29% of UNH’s cumulative royalties earned since 1999.
He has received numerous honors including the 2015 Vegetable Breeding Working Group Award of Excellence and the 2007 Outstanding Vegetable Publication Award by the American Society of Horticultural Science. In 2011, Dr. Loy was named the inaugural UNH Innovator of the Year for his research program and its impact on the University’s commercialization efforts. The award, thereafter, was named The J. Brent Loy Innovator of the Year Award. In 2010 and 2011, he was named a finalist for the Christopher Columbus Foundation Fellowship Foundation Agriscientist of the Year Award and in 2000, received the Pioneer Award of the American Society of Plasticulture.