May 21, 2008

New soybean breeder to join agriculture college

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Stella K. Kantartzi will join Southern Illinois University Carbondale Aug. 16 as the College of Agricultural Sciences' new soybean breeder.

Kantartzi, who has been conducting research in cotton at the University of Arkansas since completing her doctorate at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, will replace Michael E. Schmidt, who has retired after decades in that position.

"She was our top candidate due to her primary training in traditional plant breeding, which requires a strong background in field plot research, and because of the training in molecular biology techniques acquired in her Ph.D. training and post-doctoral studies," said Brian P. Klubek, chair of the Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems , the academic unit to which she will be attached.

Because her research has focused on cotton, she will spend some time after she arrives working with Schmidt to get a feel for SIUC's soybean-breeding program and becoming familiar with the Illinois Soybean Association.

"The long-term goal is to continue Mike's work in soybean germplasm development for disease, insect and drought resistance, to improve seed quality in collaboration with our biotechnology and genomics faculty and to collaborate with state and regional soybean breeders and commodity groups to enhance soybean production and product value," Klubek said.

A native of Greece, Kantartzi is a three-degree graduate of Aristotle University, earning her bachelor's in 2000, her master's in 2003 and her doctorate in 2006. She published her first research article in 2005; this year she has three articles published with eight others in process or under review.

Her professional memberships include the agriculture honor society Gamma Sigma Delta, the Crop Science Society of America and the International Cotton Genome Initiative.