Seed World's Editor Julie Deering recognized Emily Combs Ziemke of Corteva Agriscience as the 2019 Future Giant of the seed industry July 16 as part of ASTA's Policy & Leadership Development Conference in Denver, Colo. David Bubeck, a research director within the company’s Global Plant Breeding R&D Group, accepted the award on Ziemke's behalf.

Poised to make a significant contribution to the science and business of seeds, Emily Combs Ziemke of Corteva Agriscience was recognized by Seed World as the 2019 Future Giant of the seed industry at the American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) Policy & Leadership Development Conference in Denver, Colo.

Each year, Seed World partners with ASTA to honor an early-career individual who has demonstrated excellence in their field of work, a commitment to the seed industry and leadership above and beyond the job description.

“This year’s Future Giant could not be more deserving,” said Seed World Editor Julie Deering as she presented the award Sunday evening. “Some might call Emily, 31, the ‘Doogie Howser’ of the plant breeding world, as she went from her baccalaureate to a PhD in just 96 hours and has done work for the likes of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and CIMMYT.”

Based in Mankato, Minn., Ziemke is the North American Corn Technology lead for Corteva Agriscience where she deploys the latest technologies to improve the quality of genetic data and increase diversity within the company’s corn germplasm. But Ziemke wasn’t recognized because of her title or company affiliation, according to Seed World’s editorial board, which evaluates the nominees.

One board member stated: “Emily is not only a subject matter expert in her field, but has also decided to be broadly involved in the industry. She has a great breadth of experience in industry and academia and is an avid volunteer for key professional groups aligned with the work of the seed industry.”

This work includes serving on committees for the National Association of Plant Breeders, FarmAmerica and Green Seam. Most recently, she has been involved in the development of the “Excellence in Breeding, Module 2” to help international plant breeding organizations, such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, deploy the most relevant technologies for improved breeding.

“Her innovation and practical sense of how and when to implement the newest approaches to breeding programs has demonstrated both leadership and innovation for Corteva Agrscience,” said her nominator David Bubeck, a research director within the company’s Global Plant Breeding R&D Group.

Strong scientific acumen. Exceptional leader. Always willing to do more than required. Poised to be a major player in the sciences of plant breeding and the seed industry. These are just a few of the adjectives used to describe Ziemke. Ziemke earned a Bachelor of Science in 2009 from Cornell University in biology with a concentration in genetic development. She followed that with a doctorate in applied plant sciences from the University of Minnesota in 2012.