Dr. Robert “Bob” Nilan arrived at WSU in 1951 as an agronomist and plant geneticist, and became internationally recognized when he developed the high-yield barley variety “Steptoe” in 1968. His achievements in barley genetics were honored with an appointment to the prestigious Danish Academy of Science in 1986. He served as chair of the department of Crop and Soil Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and then became Dean of the College of Science. After stepping down from the dean’s position in I989, he was named the first Nilan Distinguished Professor in Barley Research and Education, a position created in his honor by the Washington Barley Commission. He later became coordinator of the North American Barley Genome Mapping Project. After 41 years at Washington State University, he retired in 1992. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Nilan was tireless in bringing worldwide attention to the importance of the barley industry in the Pacific Northwest and the WSU barley genetics and breeding program.
Uses and Purposes
The major objectives of the Robert A Nilan Endowed Chair in Barley Research and Education are:
- To provide excellence in barley research, education, product development, marketing and/or other developments of knowledge for barley that can directly or indirectly enhance the well-being of Washington state barley growers.
- To attract and retain a distinguished faculty member with expertise in barley research to Washington State University to serve/provide leadership for an internationally renowned program.
- To expand the barley knowledge base in research and teaching expertise and thereby attract outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to the field.
- To train undergraduate and graduate students through the development of new and original barley research and supply the growing need for trained leadership in this increasingly important industry.
- To attract other sources of funding to the program in barley research strengthening the “critical mass” of the program.