Robert W. Allard

allardOver the course of his forty years of service at Davis, Allard established himself as one of the most outstanding population geneticists in the world, not to mention an internationally-recognized specialist in ecological genetics, evolutionary genetics, and plant breeding. During his early years at the university, he did pioneering work in the development of educational programs in population genetics and plant breeding. His book in these areas, Principles of Plant Breeding (originally published in 1960 but now in its 3rd edition), quickly became a standard in the field and has enjoyed continued wide adoption as textbook and reference. As an undisputed spokesman of the field, he authored the entry on “Plant Breeding” in the 1974 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

While in his early research Allard focused primarily on the genetic processes basic to plant breeding practices, his later research objectives were threefold: 1) To derive theoretical models of population dynamics; 2) To obtain experimental estimates of genetic and ecological parameters to enter into these models; and 3) To utilize the information so gained to achieve an improved understanding of the biology of populations, including implications on evolution, ecology, and applied breeding. By the middle of the 1970’s, no less than 20 labs around the world had developed investigative programs in population genetics patterned after his innovative work. His bibliography of over 125 scholarly articles reflects the insightful mind of a prolific researcher. But his service to the university went well beyond his own research. As departmental chair, Allard led the fledgling Department of Genetics through a difficult period of early rapid growth; and his commitment to education and service to the university never waned, as evidenced by his 1974 election as the UC Davis Faculty Research Lecturer, the highest award the faculty bestows on its colleagues.