Michael Thornton, a Ph.D. plant physiologist, has returned to the University of Idaho as superintendent for the Southwest Idaho Research and Extension Center in Parma, ID.
Thornton takes over after serving the U of I as an extension potato and onion specialist from 1990-1997. He became manager of grower services for NatureMark Potatoes in Boise. Since leaving that position, he has been a product development specialist for AMVAC Chemical since 2001.
In addition to providing administrative support for the university’s R and E centers at Parma and Caldwell, he will direct the U of I’s Idaho Potato Center for Research and Education.
Thornton, a popular Pac-NW potato figure, earned his doctorate from the U of I in 1990. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Washington State and a master’s degree in horticulture from Colorado State University. He was a research horticulturist for CSU from 1983-1986.
A native of Twin Falls, ID, Thornton says his university appointment will allow him to “specifically help Idaho agriculture and contribute to the Idaho potato industry.” He believes that the future of the state’s potato industry depends directly on efficiency—“producing a high-quality product as a reasonable cost”—and on innovations in marketing and technology.