Dr. Thomas James Orton
Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center
121 Northville Road
Bridgeton, NJ 08302-5919
Ethnic Crops Working Group (NJAES)
Dr. Orton was trained in cytogenetics, plant cell and tissue culture, molecular biology, as an undergraduate and graduate student at Michigan State University. He was named to a new post at the University of California, Davis in 1978, charged with the development of a new program in the genetics and breeding of cool season vegetables. Dr. Orton left UC in 1982 to accept a position with the Agrigenetics Corporation as a Group Leader in the newly established Applied Genetics Laboratory in Boulder, CO.
The company restructured in 1985, and Dr. Orton attempted to start a new agricultural biotechnology company "Heartland Technologies, Inc." in Boulder. He later moved on to DNA Plant Technology Corporation in 1986 as Director of the Western R&D Station in Watsonville, CA. He was named Senior Director of Product Development in 1990. DNAP restructured in 1994, and Dr. Orton left to form a new consulting company "AgriSynergies" that was active until 1995, when he moved to Rutgers University as Chair of the Department of Extension Specialists and Assistant Director of Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Academically, Dr. Orton was appointed as Extension Specialist (Professor I) with tenure. He continued as Chair until 2002, when he returned to the extension/teaching/research faculty. For two years, Dr. Orton filled in as County Extension Agent in Passaic and Essex Counties, NJ. Then, in 2004, Dr. Orton moved to the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton, NJ as Extension Specialist focusing on breeding new vegetable varieties and developing new production methods.
Primary Focus Area: Genetics and breeding of tomato and pepper for enhanced consumer quality
Secondary Focus Area: Season extension in asparagus; value-added vegetable packaging technology