STB Grad Student Achieves Rigorous RGT Accreditation

Tyler Tunning and Michael StahrAn Iowa State University (ISU) Seed Science Center (SSC) staff member and graduate student has achieved what no other current employee has: accreditation as a Registered Genetic Technologist (RGT). Tyler Tunning, Graduate student in the Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business (STB) and SSC Seed Lab Trait Testing Coordinator, completed the rigorous written test and practical exam standards this year and was recognized for this accomplishment at the Association of Official Seed Analysts/Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (AOSA/SCST) Annual Meeting in June 2019.  Along with the RGT accreditation, he went from associate membership to full membership in SCST.

“It is an excellent opportunity for me to advance my career and become more active in the seed testing community,” Tunning said. “Membership is important in these organizations because we facilitate the movement of seed based on the expertise and training we provide to the seed testing industry.”    

According to Tunning, a large role of SCST and its’ sister organization, the AOSA, is to ensure laboratories maintain proficient staff and to standardize rules and other criteria for testing seed. Michael Stahr, ISU Seed Lab Manager and president of AOSA, said this is a great accomplishment for Tunning.  

“He is intelligent, quick to learn, inquisitive, and very well organized,” Stahr said.  “His educational background and work experience add to his credentials.”

Tyler Tunning (Left) Michael Stahr (Right)

Tunning earned his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and now is a student in the STB program. He says the education he is receiving helped him accumulate the requirements for the RGT accreditation. 

“The STB courses offer insight into aspects of the seed industry that are often overlooked by seed technologists,” Tunning said. “When you take into consideration the different topics addressed in the coursework, understanding your role as a member in SCST and working at an AOSA Lab, and the overall seed industry, becomes much clearer.”  

The STB program, delivered entirely online, is focused on preparing students for seed-related management roles. It is divided into sections on seed science, seed technology, and business. Business courses highlight seed-related issues, while the science and technology courses focus on practical applications. Courses emphasize interactivity with fellow students and faculty where students are encouraged to share their work experiences with other members of the group. The online courses typically consist of a combination of pre-recorded lectures, homework, threaded discussions, short papers, and examinations.  The STB program also offers two optional short courses held at the Seed Science Center each year, one on seed technology and one on seed business management. The Seed Science and Technology short course meets Nov 4-8, 2019 and the Seed Business Management short course is scheduled for April 6-10, 2020.

One of Tunning’s STB professors, Dr. Gary Munkvold, isn’t surprised by his accomplishments and says it reflects on his intellect and dedication to the 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.

As for Tunning, 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,” Tunning said. “This ensures quality job opportunities for young people and competitive salaries for employees in seed testing.”

Tunning joins several SSC Seed Lab personnel with prestigious accreditations including Registered Seed Technologists Jessica Blake and Usha Arora.

You can find more information about the Online Graduate program in Seed Technology and Business at seedgrad.iastate.edu.  and AOSA & SCST at analyzeseeds.com.

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About the Seed Science Center: The Seed Science Center at Iowa State University is a center of excellence nationally and internationally in seed research, education, technology transfer, and international seed programs. The SSC is also home to the world’s largest public seed lab and the National Seed Health System.