Marvin Burns, Ph.D.

by Tony L Harris | Interview with Marvin Burns, Ph.D.

Meet Dr. Marvin Burns – he was born and raised on a farm in the South. His story is one of how a young African-American man from Ty Ty Georgia was able to rise and establish himself as a respected professor, researcher and innovator in a field that was not known for its diversity.

Dr. Burns, throughout his career has implemented and outlined strategies for personal success and described techniques that a University can use to encourage minority students early in life to get involved in natural resources and agriculture.

He received a B.S. in Agronomy from the Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia, an M.S. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding with a minor in Plant Pathology from the University of Arizona.

In 1988, Dr. Burns was a Visiting Professor at the University of Delaware and in 1989 he was a Visiting Scientist in the Discovery Group at American Cyanamid in Princeton, NJ. During both of these Visiting Professor positions, Dr. Burns learned valuable biotechnology skills and techniques that he later used to establish the first biotechnology laboratory at Tuskegee University and the first biotechnology laboratory in Zaire.

In 1991, Dr. Burns embarked upon a long and illustrious international career when he became the Plant Breeder/Pathologist with the RAV II Extension and Research Project in Zaire (now Congo) for two years. He then moved to Cameroon where he served as the Plant Breeder/Pathologist with the Root and Fiber Crop research program for two years. Dr. Burns has also had short-term assignments in several countries such as Guyana, El Salvador, Burkina Faso, Chad, Zaire, South Africa, Nigeria, Liberia and Rwanda. In 1995 Dr. Burns left Tuskegee University to become the Associate Administrator of Extension at Langston University.

In 1997, he was named the acting Dean for Research and Extension and in 1998 was named the Dean of the newly formed school of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. He has been living in the great state of Oklahoma for 9 years and we celebrate with him on recently becoming a grandfather. His granddaughter is Ashima Burns, born on Christmas day 2007. Congratulations, Dr. Burns on becoming a grandfather and we welcome you to the show.

Listen. Learn. Enjoy.
Tony L Harris

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