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In memoriam: Lynn Gallagher

Lynn Gallagher
Lynn W. Gallagher, retired project scientist and barley breeder at UC Davis, died on Dec. 15, 2020. He was 77.

Gallagher was born in San Francisco and raised in Marin County. He earned a B.A. in political science at UC Davis with his sights set on a law career. After graduation, he joined the Peace Corps and taught primary school for two years on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, before joining an agricultural project on the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya.

The Kenya experience compelled Gallagher to refocus his goals on agriculture. When he returned to California, he earned a doctorate in plant genetics from UC Davis.

His first job after completing his Ph.D. was in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. Then he joined the University of Minnesota as an assistant professor, working with their agricultural program in Morocco. He also taught plant breeding, in French, at IAV Hassan II University. Altogether, he spent eight years in Morocco teaching, breeding barley and developing an agriculture faculty there for the University of Minnesota.

The last 30 years of Gallagher's professional life were spent at UC Davis as its barley breeder. He made sure that genetic materials were shared with active breeders and that advanced materials were actively evaluated to ensure release of outstanding varieties from UC's public breeding program. He pioneered a form of participatory plant breeding that engaged growers and seed distributors to conduct on-farm field evaluations of his advanced breeding lines. Northern California Barley Growers was established to enhance the evaluation, release, and distribution of new varieties. These representatives were invited to make evaluations and selections for their own tests under UC Agricultural Experiment Station Test Agreements. This resulted in the UC releases of great many barley varieties for feed, food, forage and malting.

He had the distinction of enabling two industries in California. The first was the food industry with his development of a naked barley (free threshing). ‘Tamalpais' now appears on some restaurant menus. He resurrected the malting barley industry in California with the development and release of Butta 12, a two-rowed malting barley for the burgeoning craft brewing industry, receiving acclaim from Admiral Maltings, the Alameda-based malting company that is marketing ‘Gallagher's Best' and ‘Feldblum' malts from the Butta 12 variety. The variety has been enthusiastically received by California growers and artisan brewers, with some 280 of them brewing cumulatively over 1,000 different beers using these malts.

Gallagher recently discussed the success of Butta 12 with Ron Silberstein, co-founder and managing member of Admiral Maltings, in a podcast organized by the Crop Science Society of America.

On Lynn's passing, Silberstein noted, “Lynn has been such a mentor and inspiring resource. He has been absolutely critical to the stage of life I am in now with Admiral Maltings. There is no way I'd be doing what I'm doing without his enthusiastic help.”

Admiral Maltings, the first malting facility in California in decades, was a major final piece of the network that Gallagher helped cultivate: California-adapted malting barleys, California growers, California malt, and California brewers and distillers.

Several condolences and plaudits shared among researchers testify to Gallagher's impact on barley breeding and the careers of barley researchers. Comments have come from members of the American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) network, from scientists at the international research center in Morocco (ICARDA), from Moroccan barley breeders, many of whom were Gallagher's students in Morocco and later collaborated with him while he worked at UC Davis. 

“Lynn has been an excellent contributor to ICARDA's global barley breeding program. I particularly remember him for supplying crosses with Yd2 and Yd3 combinations, which were later advanced and verified for effectiveness of BYDV resistance at Tunisia by the ICARDA team (Saafa and others),” wrote Ramesh Verma, principal barley investigator for ICAR- Indian Institute of Wheat & Barley Research in Karnal, India, and former ICARDA barley breeder in Morocco. “Secondly, he was a regular supplier of high variability germplasm/segregating lines for drought to be evaluated and shared internationally by ICARDA. I wish to put on record my sincere gratitude for his immense contributions.”

Gallagher retired at the end of 2017.

Mike Davis, president of AMBA, wrote, “I was impressed that with limited funding from various sources, including AMBA, he was able to run an effective and productive barley genetics and breeding program. “His skills as a geneticist and his dedicated and tireless efforts led to basic research, germplasm, and variety outputs of value and impact to the barley community throughout the U.S. and world.”

Gallagher is survived by his wife, Judy Smith; his brother Bill and sister-in-law Liz Gallagher of Santa Rosa; as well as two nieces and their families.

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 12:54 PM
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