Seed World

Syngenta Geneticist Named Michigan State University Outstanding Alumnus

Syngenta Global Head Soybean R&D Joe Byrum (middle), led a team that took home the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences’ 2015 Franz Edelman Award, which recognizes and rewards outstanding examples of operations research, management science, and advanced analytics in practice.
Joseph Byrum, global head of soybean seeds and traits R&D at Syngenta, has been named a recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Alumnus Award from Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association. The honor recognizes Byrum’s work to bring scientific excellence and innovation to agriculture.
An accomplished geneticist and thought leader in the trait research community, Byrum has extensive global experience in plant genetics and biotechnology. At Syngenta, he leads global soybean breeding, trait research, and product development, delivering improved genetics and trait technologies for soybean growers. His work contributes to making plant breeding more efficient and to be able to feed the world in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.
Recently, Byrum was the chief architect of an operations research initiative for Syngenta that won the 2015 Franz Edelman prize for contributions in operations research and the management sciences. The analytical tools his team developed provided  seed breeders the tools to develop highly productive seeds more efficiently – helping produce higher yield crops with fewer resources to feed a growing world population. 
Byrum holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Michigan State University (MSU). He later obtained his MBA from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from Iowa State University.​
“Michigan State instilled in me a combination of intellectual tools and practices, and it was there that I first became interested in plant genetics. Michigan State certainly broadened my perspective and helped pave the way so I could succeed by enabling a more vertical trajectory, multiplying my impact as a thought leader, strategic thinker, and manager,” Byrum said. “I am incredibly honored to receive this award.”
The Outstanding Alumnus Award recognizes the accomplishments, leadership and dedication of MSU graduates who make significant contributions to their field.  Their many achievements illustrate the power of education, persistence and creativity in reaching life goals. 
“The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association has been presenting the Outstanding Alumni award since 1978. Dr. Byrum has is only the 43rd recipient of the award. ‘Spartans Will’ is the very essence of Michigan State University and our alumni. Dr. Byrum has an amazing record of putting ‘Spartans Will’ into play with his career in plant breeding,” said Kathryn Reed, director of alumni relations and special events for Michigan State University.
Presentation of the Alumni Service Award will be made at the annual Agriculture and Natural Resources Week luncheon on Tuesday, March 8, 2016.