|Honorary Degree Recipient, Dr. Merton Love, May, 1985 (Photograph Collection, A-7941)|
Convocation date: May 16, 1985
Discipline / contribution: cytogenetics ; range management
Citation / biographical information:
Merton Love is a truly outstanding plant scientist with an international reputation for energy, innovation and scholarship in cytogenetics and range management.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
He was born in Tantallon, Saskatchewan and went to public school there, followed by high school in Yorkton. He later taught in Victoria public school in Yorkton and was Vice-Principal at the time he decided to come to the University of Saskatchewan. He completed his B.Sc. (Honors) in Biology in 1932 and then studied for his M.Sc. degree in wheat cytogenetics with W.P. Thompson, former president of this university. His first published paper was co-authored by W.P. Thompson and Tom Arnason. He continued this Interest during his Ph.D. at McGlll University (where he is also receiving an honorary doctorate this year) and in his job as a cytogeneticist with the cereal division. Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa. He moved to Davis, California in 1940 and except for a number of sojourns on foreign assignment he has spent the remainder of
his career there.
Dr. Love's research falls into three categories: cytogenetics, plant breeding and ecology. His early work on wheat cytogenetics provided basic information to plant breeders on the use of interspecific hybridization in the development of rust resistant bread wheats. In California, his attention switched to forage grasses. In collaboration with Ledyard Stebbins he conducted a series of classic studies which showed the adaptation of polyploids to the hot, dry rangeland of California. It is particularly significant that although his cytogenetic studies were of the highest basic calibre, he was always interested in the practical application of his research. For over 20 years, he conducted adaptation trials of thousands of native and exotic species. This led eventually to the breeding and release of varieties such as 'Mission' veldtgrass, 'Kolea' Harding grass, 'Palestine' orchard grass and 'Wilton' rose clover. These varieties have been grown on thousands of acres from Mexico to Oregon.
Probably Dr. Love's greatest contribution has been the application of agronomic principles to rangeland improvement. The wisdom of the time held that climax vegetation was the most productive. Dr. Love's work quickly led to a revision in this philosophy. His thesis is that man need be no more satisfied with natural climax vegetation of rangelands than he is with arable lands. Both involve plant-environment-harvest relationships. The application of this approach has led to the development of forage resources and the wise conversion of unproductive brushlands to productive rangeland. Dr. Love's research talents were augmented by his skills in technology transfer to farmers, extension personnel and government officials. His contributions have been widely recognized by numerous national and international awards and range from honorary membership in the Shasta county cattlemen's association to the Gulbenkian Foundation award in Portugal.
In addition to all this, Dr. Love was an effective teacher and he and his wife Eunice had a deep and genuine concern for the welfare of students. Many students have fond memories of the Christmas parties at the Love's home.
Degree presented by: B.L. Harvey
Return to main list: by date | by name