MAS awards Reddy 2024 Dudley Peeler Service Award

Reddy K Raja

Reddy K Raja (Photo By: Submitted)

By: Sam Hughes

Mississippi State University William Giles Distinguished Professor K. Raja Reddy has received the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (MAS) 2024 Dudley Peeler Service Award for his leadership and service to the academy.

Each year, MAS holds an annual symposium to present scientific papers and exhibits of interest to its members. Research papers, which include any areas of scientific study, are presented in divisional meetings. MAS publishes abstracts of the presented papers as part of the meeting program and as a supplement to the annual Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences.

MAS presents the Dudley Peeler Service Award in recognition of outstanding contributions made by a member. Reddy has introduced several new initiatives that have been approved by the MAS council: the MAS Fellows program, which recognizes shining members of MAS; the MAS Early Career Award, which aims to encourage young scientists and engineers to participate in the academy and a special issue for the Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences.

Reddy's concurrent research projects at MSU explore climate models and social vulnerability to environmental hazards, how crops respond to environmental stresses and how researchers can quantify and develop crop simulation models for classroom instruction and field applications.

"Currently, we are working with a multidisciplinary team to develop genetic mapping tools on rice and other crops to develop climate-ready crop varieties. For this, we will be using our unique sunlit plant growth chambers known as the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere-Research facility at Mississippi State. The facilities will allow us to control the environment that mimics future climates and identify varieties that do better under future climates," Reddy said.

In addition to his research, Reddy teaches a graduate-level course and works closely with students and their projects. Reddy said that student mentorship is dear to his heart, and that he sees his own success through student accomplishments.

"I developed a graduate-level course, Environmental Plant Physiology, based on the research conducted in my lab. It is an integrative course that teaches how plants respond to stressful conditions in the field and how to develop modeling methodologies for application in the field," Reddy said. "The students and young scientists mentored in our program come from across the world, and now spread the knowledge that helps achieve food security across the world. This is very fulfilling for me as an MSU faculty member."

Reddy was born and raised on a farm in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. From an early age, Reddy was interested in helping his father and brothers improve farm practices. That led to his scientific interest in botany and plants, and he continued that path to become a first-generation graduate.

"My interest in agronomy and farm management restarted after I joined Mississippi State and the crop simulation research unit, working on crop models to help farmers make planting decisions," Reddy said. "The technology during the 1980s was way ahead of its time. That fascinated me and made me want to continue working on agricultural system model development and applications."

Reddy is director of the MSU Soil-Plant-Atmosphere-Research (SPAR) facility.

"There are only two of these facilities in the nation where we can manipulate the environment -- including to project future changes in climate -- to research plant processes and identify crop varieties that are more suited for breeding programs to develop climate-resilient crops," Reddy said.

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Sam Hughes | Agriculture and Natural Resources Marketing

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