Texas Tech University

CASNR Researcher and Administrator Receives National Cotton Genetics Research Award

Norman Martin

January 18, 2019

Eric Hequet

Eric Hequet is the chairman of the Department of Plant and Soil Science.

An internationally recognized cotton science researcher and chairman of Texas Tech University's Department of Plant and Soil Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources was selected by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee as the recipient of its Cotton Genetics Research Award.

Eric Hequet, who received a plaque and monetary award, was presented the honor on Jan. 10 at the Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference in New Orleans.

"Dr. Hequet is an internationally recognized researcher and scholar in terms of cotton fiber quality and spinning technologies," said William F. Brown, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. "His diverse training from engineering to genetics allows transdisciplinary approaches to his science. Eric's leadership has placed Texas Tech as a leader in the cotton lifecycle from production to utilization."

Established in 1961 by U.S. commercial cotton breeders to recognize and encourage basic research in cotton genetics, cytogenetics and breeding, the Cotton Genetics Research Award is administered by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee consisting of representatives of the National Cotton Council and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with state experiment stations, Cotton Incorporated and commercial breeders.

Hequet, who co-developed and co-released 21 improved germplasm lines of upland cotton and two cultivars, has served the cotton genetics community as a breeder, textile engineer, department chairman and collaborator with cotton breeders worldwide. In addition, he has conducted research into the use of high-volume instrument and Advanced Fiber Information System data as selection criteria for breeders across the U.S., and encouraged breeders to utilize these parameters in the development of improved cotton germplasm and cultivars.

"Eric has provided leadership in research on the measurement of cotton fiber properties and contaminants and their impact on textile processing performance," said Wayne Smith, professor and associate head of Texas A&M University's Soil and Crop Sciences Department. "He has been at the forefront of advocating that breeders consider more than just micronaire, length and strength in their plant and row selections, and has provided guidance in the value of fineness, maturity, length uniformity and fiber elongation."

Recent honors for the multi-lingual Hequet include being designated an honorary professor and international advisory board member for scientific research by the Industrial Crop Research Institute in China's Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2017). He was designated a Horn Professor, the highest distinction a faculty member can receive, by the Texas Tech University System  Board of Regents in 2016.

Hequet joined the Texas Tech faculty in 1997 after serving in a variety of research positions, including head of the Cotton Program and head of the Cotton Technology Laboratory at CIRAD-CA in Montpellier, France. CIRAD is the International Center for Agronomic Research and Development headquartered in Paris.

Prior to that, he was head of the Bebedjia Agronomic Research Station and head of the Cotton Breeding Program and head of the Cotton Technology Laboratory for IRCT (part of CIRAD) in Bebedjia, Chad.

Hequet earned a diploma of higher education in chemistry-physiology, a master of sciences in genetics and a diploma of applied advanced studies in plants genetics from Orsay, Paris XI. His doctorate in engineering sciences is from the Universite de Haute Alsace (France).