Bikram Gill was born and raised in the Punjab State of northern India. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Punjab University and his Ph.D. degree from the University of California-Davis. He conducted postdoctoral fellowship research at the University of Missouri, Columbia; Washington University, St. Louis; and the University of California-Riverside. He was an assistant professor at the University of Florida, Belle Glade, and joined the faculty at Kansas State University (KSU) in 1979. He became associate professor in 1982, professor in 1987, and university distinguished professor in 1997.
Dr. Gill recognized the vital importance of protecting and utilizing wild germ plasm in wheat improvement. With his vision and leadership, the Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC) was established at KSU in 1984 with Dr. Gill as director. Materials and methods from the WGRC have been used by wheat workers and others from all over the world.
His research in wheat genetics, genetic resources, and molecular cytogenetics is especially important in a state with over 10 million acres of wheat. A major focus of his research is the molecular cytogenetic analysis of bread wheat. To this end, Dr. Gill pioneered the use of chromosome banding and in situ hybridization techniques, which are now used worldwide in research on wheat and other crops. The importance of his work has been recognized in many ways including the KSU Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers 1997 Wheat Man of the Year Award, University of Kansas Higuchi-Youngberg Award in Applied Science, and Agronomy and Crop Science Societies of America Fellowship.
Dr. Gill is a member of the International Wheat Genetics Organizing Committee and has been a strong force in the International Triticeae Mapping Initiative, a worldwide collaboration that is working to map the wheat genome. His laboratory was the first to develop a dense genetic linkage map of Aegilops tauschii, a gold mine of resistance genes for wheat improvement. His laboratory also developed the first comprehensive cytogenetic map of molecular markers in wheat. Dr. Gill has worked very closely with others in moving useful genes from wild wheat into bread wheat.
Dr. Gill has maintained a constantly accelerating publication pace. His publications have appeared in many journals of international reputation. A multiauthor textbook on chromosome biology is in press.
His work has a strong international dimension. His own training is multinational. His colleagues are from many countries. He has studied, regularly consulted, and lectured in numerous countries. He currently has a major McKnight Foundation collaborative grant with Nanjing Agricultural University, China.
His hard work has resulted in a level of productivity that is seldom seen in a plant scientist. His keen foresight in conceptualizing and bringing to fruition the WGRC has helped not only his program and the department at this time, but all future researchers everywhere who will need genetic resources to fight plant diseases.