SSC Advisory Council Chair, Bruce Maunder, Passes Away at Age 85

It is with great sadness the Iowa State University Seed Science Center (ISU-SSC) announces the passing of Dr. Bruce Maunder on Monday, August 5, 2019.  Dr. Maunder was a friend and  served as Chair to the ISU-SSC advisory council since 1994. He, and his wife Kathy, contributed to the education of many future seed scientists though anonymous donations to various ISU-SSC scholarships. 

“Bruce was instrumental in guiding the Seed Science Center in its quest to become a global center of excellence in seed science, technology, and systems,” said Dr. Manjit Misra, Director of ISU-SSC.  “His legacy will continue through the development of the future agriculture leaders he and Kathy supported.” 

Maunder earned recognition for his preeminent contributions as an agricultural scientist, industry leader, and for increasing the world food supply through research. He spent time working at the World Food Prize under Dr. Norman Borlaug and as 1996 president of the Crop Science Society of America. He is recognized as a life-time advocate for sorghum, admired for his dedication to the crop, and for the people he inspired through his work. 

Born and raised in Holdrege, Nebraska, Dr. Maunder attended the University of Nebraska and earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1956. He moved to West Lafayette, Indiana where he earned two degrees from Purdue University– a master’s in agriculture in 1958 and a doctorate in agriculture in 1960. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska in 1991, and an honorary Doctor of Agriculture from Purdue University in 2003.

Maunder spent 37 years at Dekalb AgResearch in Lubbock, Texas, including as Director of Sorghum Research and Senior Vice-President for Research. He contributed to state and federal academic activities through lectures, reviews, and advisory committees, and provided financial support with grants and scholarships to students seeking degrees in agriculture. He was able to combine his education with opportunity to increase agricultural production worldwide during a period when the world’s population more than doubled. He gained recognition as a global leader in plant breeding and  genetics. His breeding achievements include an estimated 150 commercial grain and forage hybrids grown on nearly 10 million acres of land, in more than 20 countries.

His humanitarian instincts were encouraged by researching a traditional crop for much of Asia and Africa and by his opportunity to serve as an external evaluator of United States AID research for 22 years.

 “I met Dr. Bruce Maunder in 1991 during a review of the USAID sorghum breeding project in Colombia,” said Dr. Susana Goggi, Agronomy Professor and Seed Science Center Faculty.  “As a newly graduated, post-doctoral research associate in the sorghum breeding program at Mississippi State University, I was in awe to meet such a renowned sorghum breeder. Imagine my surprise when he treated me as his professional equal!”

When they met,  Dr. Maunder was the chair of the External Evaluation Panel  for USAID International Sorghum and Millet (INTSORMIL) Program. Over time, Susana learned that Bruce’s humble attitude was  his greatest gift.  He treated everyone as if they were the most important person he could be talking to.

Dr. Maunder served on the board of Diversity magazine, was on the Sorghum Crop Germplasm Committee of USDA, volunteered his expertise with the National Sorghum Producers, federal and state programs, and private sector activities, including the World Food Prize. After a 40-year career, Maunder spent 20 years of “retirement,” giving his time to the education of others through submitting papers and written technical material for numerous conferences, in over a dozen countries and volunteering for Meals-on-Wheels.

Recognitions for his efforts include the Monsanto Distinguished Career Award, the American Seed Trade Distinguished Service Award, the Australian Award for Worldwide Sorghum Improvement, the Agronomic Industry Award, Genetics and Plant Breeding Award for Industry, NCCPB Genetics and Plant Breeding Award for Industry, CSSA Fellow, ASA Fellows, and the Henry Beachell Distinguished Alumni Award.