Dr. Allan K. Stoner
Allan Stoner attended Purdue University, where he received a B.S. degree in horticulture and a M.S. degree in plant breeding and genetics. He received a Ph. D. degree in horticulture from the University of Illinois. Dr. Stoner has been employed by the USDA, Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland since 1965. Initially, he conducted research on insect resistant tomatoes and later his responsibilities included the breeding of widely adapted, high quality, multiple disease and pest resistant tomatoes. This work resulted in the release of nine cultivars adapted to the Eastern U.S. and numerous multiple disease and insect resistant breeding lines.
In 1980, Dr. Stoner was named Chairman of the Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and made administratively responsible for several Laboratories, including some engaged in the acquisition, maintenance, documentation, and utilization of plant genetic resources, in support of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). From 1988 to the present, he has served as Research Leader of the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory (NGRL), whose programs support the NPGS.
During the early 1980's, Dr. Stoner was involved in the decision to create the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) to document the NPGS germplasm collections. He subsequently guided GRIN’s development into what is widely recognized as the world’s premier genetic resources database or information system. The GRIN database has become a critical tool used by administrators, managers, and curators to manage the approximately 450,000 germplasm accessions maintained by the NPGS. GRIN also provides germplasm users, worldwide, ready access to information on the contents of the NPGS collection, and passport, characterization and evaluation data on the germplasm, thereby encouraging its use for improving agriculture. Dr. Stoner was instrumental in the creation of the pcGRIN software, which is used to document and help manage relatively small genetic resources collections. The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) recognized the potential usefulness of the pcGRIN software, particularly for germplasm collections in developing countries. IPGRI translated pcGRIN into Spanish, distributed it to gene banks throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Africa, and trained over 150 personnel in its use. The pcGRIN software has also been provided to cooperators in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
As Research Leader of the NGRL, Dr. Stoner is also responsible for the Plant Exchange Office, which documents germplasm entering the NPGS, facilitates domestic and foreign exchange of germplasm, establishes acquisition priorities within and across crop groups, and manages the USDA plant exploration program. Dr. Stoner was instrumental in the creation of 40 crop germplasm committees, comprised of crop specialists from the public and private sectors, to provide crop specific technical input to the many components of the NPGS. Since their creation, Dr. Stoner has facilitated the committee’s activities. He has also served on local, national, and international committees concerned with policy and operational issues related to genetic resources preservation and utilization, and organized numerous symposia, workshops, and meetings dealing with these and related subjects.
Dr. Stoner has communicated regularly with administrators, scientists and curators associated with foreign national and international agricultural research center plant genetic resources programs regarding policies and procedures, germplasm exchange, collection documentation and management, training, etc. He has welcomed to the U.S. hundreds of political leaders, government officials, and scientists interested in genetic resources preservation and utilization.