Billy & Lois Melton Professorship

Permanent Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Drought-Tolerant Alfalfa Research

Developing permanent plant breeding, genetics, and drought-tolerant alfalfa research is a critical imperative to all nations. The New Mexico Hay Association estimates that alfalfa affects a broad swath of agricultural industries whose combined annual value exceeds $4.7 Billion and generates 48,000 jobs. Long-term livestock feed shortages abound, and the economic impact of these shortages on New Mexico's dairy and beef industries (valued at over $2.2 Billion in 2007) is substantial. The situation will become more critical as drought and diminishing underground water resources for irrigation expand their impact on the central and southern Great Plains and the U.S. at-large. New Mexico State University is uniquely positioned to solve this crisis by acting as a center of excellence for crop drought tolerance research. Our arid environment permits large scale field experiments to be routinely conducted to realistically characterize the genetic mechanisms controlling drought tolerance. In the late 1970's, Dr. Bill Melton's NMSU alfalfa breeding program began developing materials with improved levels of drought tolerance. This work has continued for over 30 years because the program proactively trains graduate and undergraduate students to conduct forward-thinking research resulting in the development of alfalfa cultivars with greater environmental stress tolerance as a means to help alleviate livestock feed shortages, while helping farmers conserve water. The Billy and Lois Melton Endowed Professorship has been established at NMSU to provide critical base funding for graduate and undergraduate student training and research. The endowment has a target goal of $250,000 and critically needs additional funding to achieve its full potential. Make a gift today and it will have a lasting impact tomorrow, and forever. Permanent endowment support for plant breeding, genetics, and drought-tolerant alfalfa research must be secured. Dr. Billy A. Melton realized this need when he joined the faculty at New Mexico State University in 1958. He is credited with being the first in the world to have developed and released an alfalfa variety that thrived under New Mexico's scant rainfall.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a difference by what we give."-Winston Churchill

Read an Associated Press article on the importance of Dr. Ray's Research.

Melton Professorship Recipients

2018 - 2022: Ian Ray
2013 - 2018: Ian Ray

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Image of Billy and Lois

To support the Billy and Lois Melton Professorship, please click the giving link above, or contact:

NMSU Foundation
Phone: (575) 646-1613