By Faith PeppersUniversity of GeorgiaWith a $1.5 million endowment from the Georgia Research Alliance and the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Seed Development Commission, the University of Georgia is searching for a new eminent scholar in crop genomics.The position, developed in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will be the third endowed position the GRA has helped establish in the CAES. The others were Steve Stice and Clifton Baile in animal and dairy science.The search for the new scholar is under way. It will close April 15.”Continued research in Georgia is vital to our growth,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin, who presented the college $750,000 toward the endowment.”If we don’t have a continuous stream of new cultivars coming out,” Irvin said, “we would one day find ourselves behind and wondering how it happened as we watch production move to other parts of the country. You have to invest in the future to stay ahead.”Genomics offers new approaches to quickly identify the genes responsible for key aspects of plant growth, development and performance.”The eminent scholar will address such needs in a number of crops that have modest national impact but are of great importance in Georgia and the Southeast,” said Al Smith, head of CAES crop and soil sciences.Georgia has already invested more in expertise and infrastructure than any other state in the region, Smith said. Adding an eminent scholar, he said, will enable the fastest possible commercialization of biotechnology.”Georgia is poised to become the leader in biotechnology research in the Southeastern region of the United States, as well as a leader nationwide,” he said.