ARS Cytogeneticist C.C. Jan Retires
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
filed under: Research and Development
A longtime integral member of the USDA’s sunflower research team retired in January after more than 35 years of service.
Cytogeneticist Chao-Chien (C.C.) Jan was a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D.
Jan earned his B.S. degree in Taiwan, followed by an M.S. in agronomy and Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California-Davis. After working with wheat for several years, he began with the ARS Davis group in 1981 in the newly created position of sunflower cytogeneticist. When the Davis unit closed three years later, Jan relocated to Fargo, N.D., where he served until his recent retirement.
“Dr. Jan’s research contributed significantly to the ability to utilize the genetic diversity of the 53 species of wild sunflower, especially in the areas of germination, use of embryo culture and chromosome doubling to overcome embryo abortion and fertility problems,” notes ARS Northern Plains Area Director Laurence Chandler. “[Jan’s work allowed] the sunflower industry to utilize previously unavailable genetic sources.”
Jan’s research in interspecific hybridization, cytoplasmic male sterility and fertility restoration, cytogenetic stocks, disease resistance and mutation led to a “global stature,” Chandler continues, “with invitations to review programs, serve as a visiting scientist, and fellowships in Australia, Serbia, Spain, Romania, Turkey, Japan, South Africa and China.” Jan was very active with the UN’s FAO Global Sunflower Network in the utilization of wild Helianthus species for sunflower improvement. He also was very involved with the USDA National Plant Germplasm System’s Sunflower Crop Germplasm Committee for more than 25 years.
In 2012, both Jan and ARS-Fargo sunflower research botanist Gerald Seiler were honored with the prestigious V.S. Pustovoit Award during the 18th International Sunflower Conference, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The Pustovoit Award, named after renowned Russian sunflower breeder V.S. Pustovoit, is conferred upon individuals who have made major contributions to the scientific and/or technological advancement of the global sunflower industry.
Jan’s work in interspecific hybridization has “opened the doors to genetic diversity never before available to the sunflower industry,” affirms fellow Pustovoit honoree Seiler. “He has served as a mentor for many students and visiting scientists who have trained in his laboratory over the years — several of whom have become global leaders in the sunflower industry.
“He pioneered the early work in embryo culture and chromosome doubling, showing that these techniques would open a whole new world of opportunities for improving the sunflower crop.”
Jan’s career, Seiler observes, was highlighted “by his dedication and meticulous research, always looking for new ways to help improve the sunflower industry. It has been a pleasure for me to be a colleague of C.C. Jan for the past 35 years, interacting with him daily about our shared passion of utilizing the wild sunflower species for sunflower improvement.”