2004 Recipient of the Arthur T. Potts Award
Dr. Leonard Pike
Dr. Leonard M. Pike is Professor, Department of Horticultural Sciences and former Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. Dr. Pike received his B.S. in 1962, MS in 1964 from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. in 1967 from Michigan State University. He joined Texas A&M University where he spent his career impacting the Texas onion, carrot and cucumber industries in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Pike’s 40 years of experience of conventional breeding and past decade of experience of breeding carrot, onion and cucumber for enhanced levels of phytochemicals has impacted the Rio Grande Valley growers and consumers. He has been making recommendations to the breeders to improve crops to provide more health benefits and help achieve niche markets to increase production and sales. Dr. Pike’s research program involves breeding several vegetable crops including onion, carrot, cucumber and sweet potato. His research impact on Texas economy is tremendous. Texas 1015 onion alone has had an impact of several million dollars, and recent introductions of ‘BetaSweet’ carrot and many other improved vegetable varieties have been licensed to growers and seed companies across the state and world. He has patented several onion (‘Texas Grano 1015Y’, ‘Texas Grano 1025′, ‘Texas Grano 1030′, ‘Texas Grano 1105Y’, Perla onion, Dorado, ‘Texas Grano 438′, Texas Early White’, Texas Legend’), and carrot (‘Gold Spike’ and ‘BetaSweet’) varieties and is also responsible for an asexual method for increasing male sterile onion in 4 countries in 1991. His research including all varieties of onion and carrots has impacted the South Texas Vegetable industry, Texas A&M University and finally his profession through involvement in professional, scientific and honor socities.
Dr. Pike is a dedicated scientist and visionary, and his leadership led to the formation of the first of it’s kind Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center in 1992 which is currently supported by 34 industry organizations including two in Australia and one in the U.K. The VICkids program was created by Dr. Pike at the VFIC to provide children the opportunity to gain awareness about the beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables in diet and to educate them about scientists work. Within the last five years, he received approximately $3.5 million in grants to conduct research on ‘Food for Health’. His efforts have contributed significantly to the success of vegetable industry in the Rio Grande Valley. He has received several awards, published (56 refereed papers, 2 book chapters, 275 popular articles), been interviewed for 42 television and radio news releases. He has been invited to speak by 11 International, 43 National and 29 Regional professional and learned societies.