ASA honors University of Missouri breeder with Pinnacle Award

Dr. Pengyin Chen

The American Soybean Association recently recognized Dr. Pengyin Chen from Sikeston, Missouri, with its Pinnacle Award during an awards ceremony broadcast.

The ASA Pinnacle Award is an industry-wide recognition of individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and leadership within the soybean family and industry through work involving a significant amount of their lifetime.

Chen, a professor in soybean breeding at the University of Missouri Fisher Delta Research Center in Portageville, Missouri, is recognized as a pioneer in the soybean and soy food industries. His life’s work has aimed to develop genetics that allow U.S. farmers to capture extra value from higher soybean yield and quality.

Since the mid-1980s in Iowa, Chen’s career in plant breeding and genetics has taken him to Texas, Virginia, Arkansas and Missouri. In the 1990s, he was part of the team that brought the Hutcheson soybean to market, which is known to be an ancestor to nearly 80% of soybean varieties grown in the South.

Throughout his career, Chen has released a combined total of more than 30 conventional row crop varieties and food grade varieties. He is the most prolific food grade soybean breeder, having developed the highest-protein commercial soybean varieties.

He developed soybeans for tofu, edamame, soymilk, natto bean sprouts and soy nuts. At the University of Missouri, he is helping release high oleic soybean varieties.

“Dr. Chen is a trailblazer in soybean research and breeding, and his professional accomplishments have benefited soybean growers across the United States,” said ASA Vice President Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean grower and nominated Chen for the Pinnacle Award. “His contributions to soybean genetics are a cornerstone to the innovation and progress we see across the industry today.”

Outside the lab,  Chen excels at communicating about soybean genetic advances through field days and meetings with growers, foreign buyers and researchers. He’s written or co-authored more than 225 journal articles.

In addition, he has taught classes in plant breeding and soybean production, helping educate and mentor dozens of students, many now employed by major agriculture companies and universities.

The American Soybean Association contributed this article.

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