Dr. Jim Luby Receives The NAPB 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

August 04, 2023

The National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) has selected Professor Jim Luby as the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award! Luby was recognized with this distinct honor at the annual meeting on July 19th, 2023. 

Jim Luby has excelled in cultivar development, plant breeding research, undergraduate and graduate instruction and advising, and has become a leader in the horticultural plant breeding community during the course of his 41 year career at the University of Minnesota.

Portrait of Dr. Jim Luby

Since 1982, Luby has led the Department of Horticultural Science’s fruit breeding and genetics program that has developed 31 cultivars of apple, grape, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, pear, and plum. Jim Luby and colleague David Bedford have introduced several important apple cultivars which have become household names including the Honeycrisp, SweeTango, and First Kiss. 

In addition to breeding apple, Luby helped put the cold-climate wine industry on the map. Through the wine grape breeding program that Luby led until 2015, 5 key cultivars were introduced that helped enable small, local vineyards, and wineries across the midwest to produce quality wines. This contribution to cold-hardy grape cultivars has become increasingly important as climate change continues to alter what we once knew as ideal growing locations and conditions. 

Luby’s contributions aren’t only notable within cultivar development and plant breeding research. Over the years, Luby has made a large impact on his students' lives. He’s advised 14 PhD students, 12 M.S. students, supervised 6 postdocs, and served on over 170 graduate committees. Additionally, he has spent 17 years as the graduate program director or associate director for the graduate programs in Horticulture and Applied Plant Sciences graduate programs. Luby’s commitment to research and academic excellence has been recognized at the national and international level. Among his honors are: International Fruit Tree Assoc. Outstanding Researcher Award, 2023; American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) Career Award for Outstanding Graduate Educator, 2020; University of Minnesota Impact Innovation Award (with David Bedford), 2019; ASHS Career Award for Outstanding Researcher, 2014; American Pomological Society Wilder Medal for outstanding contributions to fruit breeding, 2008; ASHS Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award for Honeycrisp apple, 2007; and ASHS Fellow, 2002.

As a department, we are deeply proud of the work Professor Luby has championed over the years and are thrilled to see him recognized for his outstanding contributions to the horticultural science community.