Christian Thill, the head potato breeder at the University of Minnesota died suddenly on Aug. 9. He was 53.

Thill was an associate professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

As a potato breeder, plant geneticist and professor, Thill was involved in collaborative efforts in the development of new potato breeds to improve crop yields and disease resistance. He recently developed two new potato varieties, including MonDak Gold, which was released for commercial production this year.

Survivors include his wife Mary and three daughters.

Visitation is from 9-11 a.m. Aug. 12 at St. Joan of Arc Church in Minneapolis. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the University of Minnesota to establish a scholarship in Thill’s memory.