New Mexico State University Regents Professor of Horticulture, Distinguished Achievement Professor and Chile Pepper Institute Director Paul W. Bosland has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement award from the International Pepper Conference.
Chile Pepper Institute Director Paul W. Bosland has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement award from the International Pepper Conference. Bosland was first hired by NMSU as a vegetable breeder, but later decided to spend his whole career on chile peppers. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)
For more than 30 years, the International Pepper Conference has attracted prominent scientists in the industry and has become the premier venue for the dissemination and exchange of information on chile peppers.
Bosland was awarded the lifetime achievement award during the November conference held in Fort Myers, Florida.
“Of course, I joked, am I really old enough to get a lifetime achievement award?” Bosland said. “The International Pepper Conference presents the award out to individuals who have made significant worldwide impacts in chile pepper breeding and research of peppers and I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my peers and received it this time around.”
While Bosland is very honored to have received the award, he said he shares it with everyone who has been involved in his chile pepper program. This includes more than 30 graduate students who have studied under Bosland from across the world.
“Coming to NMSU is where I began my chile pepper career. To receive an award like this includes sharing it with many people in the program and with NMSU,” Bosland said. “You don’t really do something like this by yourself. You do it with a lot of people so I’m very fortunate to have had excellent students from all over the world in the past who have helped me to expand the chile pepper research agenda making something like this possible.”
One of the people involved in the program is NMSU Extension vegetable specialist Stephanie Walker. Bosland was a major adviser for Walker while she was studying for her graduate degrees.
“I was hooked on chile research when I attended the International Pepper Conference Paul hosted in 1994. I went on to get my master’s degree with him and then he accepted me into his program again when I decided to pursue my Ph.D,” Walker said. “I wouldn’t be here without Paul’s support of my research. He provided guidance in what I needed to do as an Extension vegetable specialist here at NMSU.”
Bosland was first hired by NMSU as a vegetable breeder, but he later decided to spend his whole career on chile peppers. During this time, Bosland has achieved many things and really made a name for himself and NMSU’s chile pepper program.
“We got an Ig Nobel from Harvard (in 1999) for producing a no-heat jalapeno where there was a real need from the food industry,” Bosland said. “Our annual Chile Pepper Institute Teaching Garden is a big success. We plant more than 150 different types of chile peppers every year and we have thousands of students and visitors coming by every year. Then we have our New Mexico Chile Conference, which we’ve been holding for 37 years and it’s still the biggest conference for chiles in the world, even bigger than the international conference.”
Other achievements include a partnership with CaJohns Fiery Foods, a company from Ohio that helped develop NMSU’s Holy Jolokia line of products. Bosland said collaborating with people from all over the world, such as China, Korea, Thailand, Europe and all the Americas, has resulted in many discoveries about chile peppers.
Walker recalls many times when Bosland would provide hands-on teaching in the field and greenhouse to show her and other students what they needed to know.
“He would point out disease or virus symptoms so that we could quickly recognize them in the future,” Walker said. “In the greenhouse, he would show us best management practices and provide guidance in keeping it free of pests and diseases. Being around him and interacting with him provided a constant learning experience. He knows so much, and, if you’re receptive to his feedback, you can get a great education in chiles and horticulture in general.”
Walker said Bosland is well respected by chile researchers around the world.
“Some of his graduate students have been amazing and because of his high profile he has attracted the best and brightest from all around the world. He has greatly contributed to the chile community,” Walker said. “Paul is internationally recognized for his work. This lifetime achievement award was highly deserved.”