Clemente awarded with Larry Tonniges Research Achievement Award

Apr 11, 2024

Tom Elmo Clemente, a distinguished figure in the realm of plant genetics and biotechnology, has been honored with the Larry Tonniges Research Achievement Award for his groundbreaking contributions to soybean research. The award, which was made possible by the family of the late Larry Tonniges, a longtime Nebraska farmer who was dedicated to production research as part of the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB), honors researchers who have made significant contributions to soybean research for NSB.


Serving as a principal investigator and professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Clemente has pioneered innovative research initiatives aimed at enhancing plant germplasm and incorporating genetic engineering to fortify crops against diseases and enhance value-added traits. Clemente oversees the Plant Transformation Core Research Facility (PTCRF), a cutting-edge establishment facilitating vector constructions, plant transformations and characterizations of transformants. His research spans across various crops including soybeans, wheat, maize and sorghum, showcasing his versatility and commitment to addressing pressing agricultural challenges.


His academic background includes a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from North Carolina State University. He then conducted postdoctoral studies at The Monsanto Company prior to joining the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Clemente has been instrumental in identifying a gene crucial for conferring resistance to the herbicide dicamba in broadleaf crops. This discovery has paved the way for the development of dicamba-resistant crops and has sparked further exploration into novel applications of this technology. Additionally, Clemente has spearheaded Nebraska Soybean Board-funded projects aimed at enhancing soybean germplasm through biotechnology, increasing oil content, improving disease resistance and exploring the integration of soybeans into fish diets.


Tom Elmo Clemente issued the following statement of gratitude on the award:


"It is truly an honor to be recognized by the Nebraska Soybean Board with the Larry Tonniges Research Achievement Award. My interactions with Nebraska soybean producers have been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career at the University of Nebraska. The knowledge gained from these interactions educated me on the economic sustainability challenges facing U.S. agriculture, which in turn, helped inform our research program on traits to target for the development of strategies to deploy to add genetic gains into soybean. These novel genetic gains developed and tested were designed to help improve yield, mitigate yield losses due to disease and abiotic stressors and add value to the harvest."


As the torchbearer of innovation and excellence in soybean research, Tom Elmo Clemente's receipt of the 2024 Larry Tonniges Research Achievement award stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to advancing agricultural science and securing a sustainable future for the soybean industry.


About the Nebraska Soybean Board: The nine-member Nebraska Soybean Board collects and disburses the Nebraska share of funds generated by the one-half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold. Nebraska soybean checkoff funds are invested in research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.