Seed Trait Lab coordinator, Tyler Tunning, first came to the Seed Science Center as a student in the DNA lab during his senior year at Iowa State University, in 2012. A couple years later he returned and eventually became a full-time employee, in 2015. He is currently the only Registered Genetic Technologist (RGT) on staff. The Seed Lab manager, Michael Stahr, says Tyler is consistently thinking about how the lab can do things better.
“He is in charge of an important and ever-changing part of the Seed Lab’s testing “portfolio,” testing for biotech traits,” Stahr said. “His best quality is wanting to, and succeeding in ,doing things right plus doing a great job documenting much of what is done in the Trait Lab.”
Tyler, whose undergraduate degree is in horticulture, says his passion for seed and agriculture began at an early age with his grandparents on both sides of his family. They owned corn, soybean and livestock farms in rural Iowa.
“Over the years, I began to understand how important seeds are in playing a role for food and economic security around the world,” Tyler said. “Work experience in a crop research environment increased my passion and understanding of seed and genetics.”
Tyler, who enjoys being outdoors hiking, camping and kayak fishing, is also enrolled in the Seed Technology and Business (STB) Graduate degree program at Iowa State.
One of his STB professors, Dr. Gary Munkvold, isn’t surprised by Tyler’s accomplishments and says it reflects on his intellect and dedication to the seed profession.
“Tyler is thoughtful and curious, and he has a thorough understanding of his work and its relationship to agriculture as a whole,” Munkvold said.
After completing the rigorous written test and practical exam to achieve his RGT accreditation last year, Tunning became a full member of the Association of Official Seed Analysts and Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (AOSA/SCST). He currently serves on the SCST RGT Board of Examiners.
Tyler says he would like to see more young people become active in AOSA and SCST and encourages those who are interested to reach out to current members at various private, public, and commercial seed testing labs.
“By communicating the importance of AOSA and SCST membership to seed company executives, public organizations, and government legislators we can bolster our standing in the seed industry,” Tyler said. “This ensures quality job opportunities for young people and competitive salaries for employees in seed testing.”