Former Plant Breeding Students

Gregory Albert

Gregory Albert

Email: grablert@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: MSC Forestry
B.S., Environmental Science Ecosystems, Binghamton University
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand
Completion date: December 2014

Research: Determine the difference in below ground carbon storage capacity of two geographically distinct provenances of loblolly pine on an excessively drained site. The Atlantic Coastal Plain (ACP) provenance and Lost Pines Texas (LPT) provenance, which represent the northeast and southwest extent of loblolly pines native range are in their 19th growing season at SETRES-2 research site in Scotland County North Carolina in split-split experimental design; with nutrition (optimally-fertilized and non-fertilized) as the main plot, genetic provenance (ACP and LPT) as split-split plots, and family (five open-pollinated families per provenance) split-split plots within provenance. Estimates for carbon storage will be attained by measuring soil CO2 flux, soil water percolate flux, root growth (using soil cores, and glass wall technique), and growth traits. These results may give insight how these geographically distinct provenances may respond to changes in climate and soil type.

Gregory is working for a Forestry Consulting firm in Charlotte (American Forest Management)


Ryan Andres

Ryan Andres

Email:rjandres@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Biology, Elon University
M.S. Crop Science, NC State University
Advisor: Dr. Vasu Kuraparthy
Completion date: Spring 2015

Research: My project is to fine map and clone important developmental and morphological traits in cotton. In particular, my research will focus on elucidating the genetic mechanism(s) controlling leaf shape architecture. Once identified, the manipulation of these genes and their downstream signaling components will be investigated in an attempt to develop cotton plants possessing a more ideal leaf shape than standard ‘normal’ leaf cultivars, especially in regards to boll rot resistance.

Ryan Andres is now a USDA-ARS Post Doc with Jim Holland.


Lauren Arteman

Lauren Arteman

Email: ljartema@ncsu.edu 
Degree Program: M.S. Horticultural Science - Plant Breeding
Previous Degree: B.S. Plant Sciences, Southern Illinois University
y Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Completion Date: Fall, 2016


David Kenneth Barker

David Barker

Degree Program: Ph.D., Forestry
B.A., Political Science, Duke University
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand
Completion date: Spring 2012

Research: The development of alternative fuels can help to alleviate environmental issues such as air pollution and can reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. Ethanol is one such alternative fuel, and it can be made from a variety of feedstocks including woody plant matter (i.e., lignocellulosic biomass). To date, corn has been the main feedstock supplying production facilities, but it is not an ideal resource for fuel production because of its status as an important food crop. Woody plant matter is a viable alternative as it is widely available and is not a staple food. 
As the most productive tree species in the southern US, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) has great potential as a feedstock species for ethanol production, but production of ethanol from loblolly pine wood is challenging. Many different chemical and physical wood properties are genetically controlled traits, and variation in properties affecting ethanol production may exist. Currently, 23 clonal varieties of loblolly pine, selected for a diverse range of chemical/wood properties, are being converted into ethanol via enzymatic hydrolysis. Preliminary results are encouraging. The best clone out of ten already tested with a dilute acid pretreatment yielded almost 13% more sugar per gram than the average. These sugars once released can be fermented to create ethanol. This variation in sugar yields among pine varieties suggests there are significant genetic differences that can be used to improve conversion to ethanol.


Felix Roberto Cantor Barreiro

Felix Roberto Cantor Barreiro

Email: fcantor@ncsu.edu 
Degree program: MS in Plant Breeding and Genetics
Previous degrees: Associate degree in Automotive Mechanics
BS in Food Science and Technology
Advisor: Thomas G. Isleib
Completion date: Scheduled on Dec 2017

Description of research project: characterization and comparison of advanced peanut derived breeding lines to a commercial cultivar in regards mainly of flavor and other important agronomic traits.


Jared Benson

Jared Benson

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Genetics and Biotechnology, Brigham Young University
M.S., Genetics and Biotechnology, Brigham Young University
Advisor: Dr. Gina Brown-Guedira

Research: Characterize FHB resistant Eastern soft wheat germplasm utilizing molecular markers. The specific objectives of this research are to (1) characterize entries in the Southern and Northern scab screening nurseries with markers linked to previously mapped FHB resistance loci and (2) to investigate association analysis as a means of identifying new loci associated with resistance. 


Krishna Bhattarai

Krishna Bhattarai

Email:kbhatta@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University, Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal
Advisors: Dr. Dilip R. Panthee and Dr. Frank J. Louws
Completion date: December, 2014

Research: I am working on Bacterial Spot disease resistance in tomatoes. It involves study of Plant Triggered Immunity (PTI) of tomatoes in response to Pathogen Associated Molecular Pattern (PAMP) for screening tomato lines.


Yang Bian

Yang Bian

Email: ybian2@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science (Plant Genetics and Breeding)
M.S., Advanced Analytics, NCSU
M.S., Horticultural Science, NCSU
B.S., Horticultural Science, Huazhong Agricultural University
Advisor: Dr. Jim Holland
Completion date: Spring 2016 

Research: (1) re-analyze of genetic resistance to southern leaf blight in maize Nested Association Mapping panel using updated genetic and haplotype maps, and measure influence of input changes on the current two-stage joint linkage-association analysis in NAM panel, (2) predict quantitative traits using genome-wide polymorphism information via linear and non-linear models, (3) evaluate linkage disequilibrium structure in maize NAM panel and other mating designs to assess GWAS resolution, and (4) Study the genetic basis of unstable dominance at the Gametophyte factor 1 allele from tropical inbred NC296.


Christine M. Bradish 

Christine M. Bradish

Email: cmbradis@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: PhD, Horticultural Science
B.S., Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University
M.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
Advisors: Gina Fernandez and Penelope Perkins-Veazie
Completion date: Summer 2016

Research: Working on a national project aimed at improving disease and insect resistance, nutritional value, and other horticulturally important traits in black raspberry, I will be evaluating two mapping populations for a broad range of traits over two growing seasons. These measured traits will be compared with those of the mapping population in three other locations nationwide. Linkage maps will be assembled using SSR and SNP markers from data collected, and transferability of markers from black raspberry to red raspberry and blackberry will be assessed. Additionally, for North Carolina, the relationship between heat tolerance and specific phenolic levels will be assessed


Adam Call

Adam Call

Email: aeroadc11@gmail.com
Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticultural Science, Kansas State University
M.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Completion Date: Summer 2013

Research: Study resistance to downy mildew in cucumbers including inheritance of resistance, mechanisms of resistance, fungicide interaction and tolerance. Determine if there are different resistance genes for each mechanism of resistance. Combine resistance from different sources and lines with resistant in different locations. Provide growers with cultivar/fungicide interaction data. 

Adam is the cucumber breeder for HM.Clause (Harris Moran) in Davis, CA.


Esdras Carbajal

Esdras Carbajal

Email: emcarbaj@ncsu.edu 
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science, North Carolina State University
B.S. Natural Resources Management, Universidad Nacional de Agricultura, Honduras
Advisor: Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis
Completion Date: May 2017

Research: My research involves the manipulation of chromosomes numbers in St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum). Using chemical agents to double number of chromosomes (Tetraploid plants= Four sets of chromosomes) and using tissue culture to create Haploid plants (only one set of chromosomes), and sterile triploid plants (three sets of chromosomes). 


Carrin Carlson

Carrin Carlson

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.S., Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Advisor: Dr. Andrea Cardinal
Completion date: May 2011

Research: My project is a quantitiative trait loci (QTL) analysis of two genetically connected populations. The primary objectives of this project are to 1) detect and validate QTL associated with protein content, amino acids and protein subunits, 2) determine if the high protein sources of the two populations conatin the same QTL affecting high protein and 3) determine significant QTL by environmental effects and stability of QTL. 


Hongxia Chen 

Hongxia Chen

Email: hchen18@ncsu.edu
Degree program: PHD Crop Science
Advisor: Dr. Rongda Qu
Completion date: Spring 2016
Previous education: B.S in China Agriculture University 

Research: I am trying to find and characterize the proteins interacting with NtMyc2a transcription factors in tobacco. Those proteins are hopefully involved in nicotine biosynthesis pathway and will have a potential to affect nicotine accumulation. Once those proteins are identified and verified in vitro, I will make transgenic tobacco lines with altered nicotine content.


Yu Chun Chiu 

Yu Chun Chiu

Email: ychiu2@ncsu.edu
Degree program: MS, Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, National Taiwan University
Advisors: Dr. Allan Brown and Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie
Completion date: 2015 Spring or Summer

Research: Working on phenolic compound like flavonoids or hydroxymates in broccoli sample. Using HPLC-MS to quantify the concentration of phenolics and QTL mapping with SNP marker analysis to identify the associated biosynthesis genes in broccoli.


James D. Daley 

James D. Daley

Email: jddaley@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: PhD, Horticulture Science
B.S., Biotechnology, Brigham Young University
M.S., Plant and Environment Science, Clemson University
Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Completion Date: Fall 2017

Research: I will be working to identify sources of resistance to bacterial fruit blotch in watermelon. This will involve the development and adaptation of novel resistance assays for both the seedling and fruit developmental stages. As part of this research, isolates from North Carolina will be collected, sequenced, and combined with other common isolates, which will then be used screen over 1600 watermelon cultigens. Identified resistance will be selected for and crossed in order to study the inheritance of BFB resistance and to make lines exhibiting extraordinary resistance available to breeders. In addition, this research will be combined with previous screenings conducted here at NCSU to provide an overall picture of available germplasm resistance to this devastating disease.


Jake Delheimer

Jake Delheimer

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Integrative Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
M.S., Crop Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Advisor: Dr. Tommy Carter
Completion date: May 2011

Research: Develop breeding approaches for introgressing agronomic alleles from wild soybean into cultivated soybean. The objective of this research is to identify molecular markers associated with agronomic traits in the wild soybean Glycine soja, and to use this information in developing varieties with exotic germplasm. 


Abigail Dexter-Boone 

Abigail Dexter-Boone

Email: aedexter@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: MS in Crop Science
Previous Degrees: BS in Plant Biology from NC State
Advisor: Dr. Ramsey Lewis
Completion Date: May 2018

Description of Research Project: Project 1 involves evaluating whether the level of F1 yield heterosis in tobacco can predict the biparental cross combinations most likely to produce transgressive segregates. If we do find a positive association between heterosis in the F1 and superior performance of derived lines, breeding programs would be able to make a large number of crosses, test them at the F1 stage, and then devote resources to the cross combinations most likely to yield successful lines. Project 2 involves finding new sources of low nicotine production within the Nicotiana germplasm collection in order to develop low nicotine/high quality tobacco cultivars that will meet reduced nicotine goals for tobacco products set by the World Health Organization. Project 3 involves identifying genes associated with parthenocarpy in tobacco. This is when a fruit is formed in the absence of fertilization, and is of interest in other crops, specifically horticultural crops that desire seedless fruit production.


Mahendra Dia

Mahendra Dia

Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science
B.S., Agriculture, Rajasthan Agricultural University, Bikaner, India
M.S., Agronomy, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India
M.S., Agriculture, Tarleton State University, Texas
Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Completion date: December 2011

Research: Gentopye x environment interaction and stability of performance for fruit yield and quality in watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum Nakai] tested in seven US locations. These locations include Kinston and Clinton, NC; Charleston, SC; Cordele, GA; Quincy, FL; College Station, TX; and Woodland, CA. Quality parameters include total lycopene, soluble solids, pH, citrulline, sugar composition, and organic acids. 


Charlie D. Dowling

Charlie D. Dowling

Email: dowlicd@gmail.com 
Degree Program: PhD Plant Breeding-Horticultural Science
B.S., Agronomy & Soils, Auburn University
M.S., Plant Breeding-Soil & Crop Science, Texas A&M University
Advisor: Dr. Dilip Panthee
Completion date: Summer 2015

Research: My research involves breeding Solanum lycopersicum for resistance to bacterial blight. Identification of the species and race of Xanthomonas that affects tomatoes in North Carolina is the initial objective. Next, using an F2 or BC1 mapping population, map the resistance gene/QTL for the identified race of Xanthomonas. The development of molecular markers associated with resistance and implementation into a marker-assisted breeding program is the concluding steps of this project


Jeffrey Dunne

Jeffrey Dunne

Email: jcdunne@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S. Crop & Soil Science, Michigan State University
M.S. Crop & Soil Science, Michigan State University
M.S. Advanced Analytics, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis
Completion Date: Spring 2016

Research: Research focuses on the application conventional and molecular tools to bermudagrass breeding. Specific projects include: 1) screening a set of bermudagrass genotypes for shade tolerance under field conditions and assess the effect of different management regimes on recovery under shade, 2) develop efficient screening methods to test for freezing tolerance in bermudagrass and attempt to elucidate the physiological basis for tolerance, 3) evaluate the potential use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization – time of flight (MALDI-TOF) to discriminate among accessions of bermudagrass and also to identify contaminants in golf courses and production fields, and 4) identify QTL for several phenotypic traits related to turf quality and seed yield in a hybrid bermudagrass population. In addition to this research, various analytical and predictive modeling techniques will be instituted to revise perspectives on traditional statistical analysis and data collection. 


David Eickholt

David Eickholt

Email: dpeickho@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
M.S., Crop Science- Plant Breeding, North Carolina State University
B.S., Agronomy-Advanced Study Option, Michigan State University
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Carter
Completion Date: December 2016

Research:
1) Development and evaluation of heterogeneous inbred families (HIFs) for novel genetic regions affecting soybean yield and overall protein.
2) Determining the agronomic and genetic consequences of early-generation phenotypic selection in wild (x) domesticated soybean crosses.
3) Investigating the efficacy and stability of exotic genetic regions affecting yield when transferred across soybean maturity groups.
4) Evaluating the genetic architecture and agronomic performance of a set of breeding lines developed from a wild (x) domesticated soybean cross.


Adam Festa

Adam Festa

Email: arfesta@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: PhD, Functional Genomics & Forestry
B.S., Plant Biology, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Ross Whetten
Completion date: June 2016

Research: My current research focus is on increasing selection intensity within loblolly pine breeding programs by assessing the relationship between unique patterns of family gene expression and parental breeding values gathered from progeny test data. The goal is to assess the stability and reliability of using gene expression data to gather insight on how parents may perform when progeny tested in the field. 


Emma Flemmig

Emma Flemmig

Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Agronomy and Biology, Iowa State University
Advisors: Dr. Gina Brown-Guedira and Dr. David Marshall
Completion date: Summer 2012

Research: Sources of resistance to wheat rust, genes Sr2, Sr22, Sr36, and Sr40, have been introgressed into wheat germplasm from other Triticum species. Each of these genes is in repulsion linkage with another important wheat disease resistance (R) gene due to the alien chromatin introgressions. My objective is to identify recombination events between these Sr and R gene pairs to link the two resistance traits together. I will also work on mapping a new source of resistance to the race TTKS (Ug99) of wheat rust, potentially identifying a new Sr gene. 


Graham Ford

Graham Ford

Email: gaford@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D, Tree Improvement Program - Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
B.S., Forest Management, North Carolina State University, 2010
M.S., Forestry, North Carolina State University, 2012
Completion date: Fall 2016


Dominic Gillooly

Dominic Gillooly

Email: dagilloo@ncsu.edu
Degree Program and Department: Masters of Science, Department of Horticultural Science
Previous degrees: BS Horticultural Science 2013, BS Business Management 2002
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Ranney
Expected completion date: December 2016

Projects include:
1. A survey of the genus Kalmia for ploidy level and genome size utilizing flow cytometry.
2. Generation of tetraploid Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' utilizing somatic embryogenesis and treatment with oryzalin.
3. A study of the effect of high rates of K-IBA on the rooting of evergreen Magnolia species.


Matt Granberry

Matt Granberry

Email: mcgranbe@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
Previous degrees: B.S. Plant and Soil Science with a minor in Agricultural Business Management, North Carolina State University
Adviser: Dr. Paul Murphy
Completion date: May 2016

Research:
My research is focused on weed suppression in wheat against Italian Ryegrass in the NC-Neuse x AGS 2000 mapping population. I want to identify suppressive lines and new QTL's within this population for weed suppression. Then use the new QTL's to screen future wheat lines and help address the ryegrass problems that both organic and conventional wheat growers are facing today.


Halley Granitz

Halley Granitz

Email: hmgranit@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
Previous degrees: B.S.A., Horticulture, University of Georgia
Advisor: Dr. Julia Kornegay
Expected completion date: December 2013

Research: My research involves the cut flower industry in North Carolina. Projects include 1) a production and marketing survey of the NC cut flower industry; 2) evaluation of major cut flower crops grown for yield, flower quality, pest and disease constraints, and vase life; 3) evaluation of weed management recommendations and practices; and 4) establishment of an information portal to serve as a clearinghouse of information for the North Carolina cut flower industry. 


Daniel Grans

Daniel Grans

Degree Program: Ph.D., Forestry
M.S., major in Forest Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand

Research:Studying the variation in growth traits and traits important for the quality of solid wood products (i.e. microfibril angle, wood density, and wood stiffness). Objective: Investigate genetic variation and possible interactions between genetics and silviculture treatments on wood quality traits and growth traits. Focus on Norway spruce and loblolly pine. 


Yu Luna Gu

Yu Luna Gu

Email: ygu2@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticultural Science, Shenyang Agricultural University
Advisor: Dr. Julia Kornegay
Completion date: December 2014

Research: working on a systematic breeding program on zinnia. My research include:1) Pollination mechanism determination of 18 cultivars of zinnia. 2) DNA content detection with flowcytometry. 3)Polyploid induction in two zinnia species 4) Differences of the economic productivity, disease resistance, flower quality between direct seeded vs. transplant zinnia and between one season species vs. rotated species 


Wesley Hancock 

Wesley Hancock

Email: wghancoc@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science 
Previous Degrees: M.S., Crop Science, North Carolina State University
B.S., Plant and Soil Science, North Carolina State University 
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Isleib 
Completion Date: Spring 2018 

Research: 1) Detailed investigation of Sclerotinia blight resistance in the virginia peanut market-type, 2) Identification of genome-wide DNA markers associated with yield, grade factors, disease resistances, and flavor in a set of elite, extensively tested NCSU peanut breeding lines, and 3) Evaluating resistance to multiple diseases in an Arachis hypogaea × A. diogoi interspecifc hybrid derived population.


Jordan Hartman

Jordan Hartman

Email: jlhartm3@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S. Horticultural Science - Plant Breeding
Previous Degree: B.S. Wingate University
Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Completion Date: Spring, 2017


McCamy Pruitt Holloway

McCamy Pruitt Holloway

Email: mhpruitt@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
Previous Degrees: B.S., Agronomy and Soils, Auburn University
Advisor: Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis
Completion Date: December 2016

Research: My research focuses on winter hardiness traits in zoysiagrass, a warm-season perennial turfgrass. My projects include: 1) creating a high density SNP- and SSR-based linkage map using genotyping-by-sequencing techniques and using this map for quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis in a zoysiagrass mapping population, and 2) using proteomics and controlled freeze testing to investigate cold acclimation effects in zoysiagrass. 


Travis M. Hootman

Travis M. Hootman

Email: tmhootma@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., magna cum laude, Biology, Ohio Dominican University
Advisor: Dr. Julia Kornegay
Completion date: Spring 2015

Research: My research focuses on zinnia breeding. Projects include 1) interspecific breeding among 12 zinnia species; 2) polyploid induction of the resulting progeny; 3) screening hybrids for disease resistance and superior characteristics for use as cut flowers and determining the inheritance of these traits; and 4) establishing an optimal method for inoculating zinnia with X. campestris pv. zinniae


David W. Horne

David Horne

Email: dwhorne@ncsu.edu
Degree Program and Department: Masters, Crop Science
Previous degrees:
A.S., Field Crops Technology, North Carolina State University
B.S., Plant and Soil Science, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Jim Holland
Expected completion date: Spring 2015

Research: To determine if the use of recurrent selection improves the direct response to Fusarium ear rot and the indirect response to fumonisin contamination.
Projects include: (1) Inoculating plants from cycle zero and cycle three with isolates of the pathogen Fusarium verticilliodes and scoring them on a percent severity scale for ear rot, followed by the use of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for fumonisin contamination; (2) evaluation of resistant selected top cross lines for disease, yield, and lodging. 


Brandon Huber

Brandon Huber

Email: bmhuber@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Masters, Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticulture Science, Temple University
Advisor: Todd Wehner
Completion date: Spring 2017

Research: Breeding of Stevia rebaudiana, a native perennial to Paraguay has important sweetening characteristics with compounds as high as 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Stevia contains zero calories and has no glycemic index, making it very safe for diabetics. Stevia will be an important crop of the future due to its benefits as a sugar substitute and no known negative effects to consumers. Currently, Stevia is an undeveloped crop with limited varieties available for planting. There is high phenotypic diversity found in the crop when grown from seed such as plant height and width, which makes it difficult to implement into commercial cropping systems. Stevia also is known to have an associated bitterness to its taste which makes it undesirable to consumers. This bitterness can be improved by breeding. My research focuses on evaluating current Stevia varieties for components of yield and sweetness levels known as glycosides. With this data we can then breed to improve these collective traits of interest and develop a variety that would suit the industry. A variety with high yields and high sweetness levels with no bitterness is desirable for Stevia to become a successful crop. 


Hsiaoyi Hung

Hsiaoyi Hung

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Agronomy, minor in Plant Breeding and Genetics, National Taiwan University
M.S., Plant Breeding, Texas A&M University
Advisor: Dr. Jim Holland
Completion date: December 2010

Research: (1) Modeling GXE interaction structure of nested association mapping (NAM) population on flowering time QTL and obtaining the better predictions for mapping QTL. (2) Diallel analysis of fumonisin contamination resistance to evaluate the relationship between combining ability and the Fusarium ear rot resistance. 


Ray Jacobs

Ray Jacobs

Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science
B.S., Plant Science - Plant Breeding and Genetics, minor in Business, Cornell University
Advisor: Dr. Jeremy Pattison
Completion date: May 2015

Research: Investigate the inheritance of foliar and crown tissue resistance to C. gloeosporioides in strawberry and develop breeding strategies that will increase the recovery of resistant progeny and hasten the development of agriculturally superior, disease resistant cultivars. 


Sydney Jarret

Sydney Jarret

Degree Program: Masters, Crop Science
B.S., Crop Sciences-Biological Sciences, University of Illinois
Advisor: Dr. Paul Murphy

Research: Identifying a novel gene for resistance to powdery mildew in wheat. The chromosome will be screened with SSR markers and as polymorphisms in parental lines are identified; those regions will be targeted further with SSR markers. When a region is identified as the likely introgression, the markers will be screened on all individuals in the mapping population. Phenotypic screenings of the mapping population at the F2 and F2:3 population will be done to identify the inheritance of the resistance gene. 


Zachary Jones

zack Jones

Email: zgjones@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S. /Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Agronomy and Soils, Auburn University
Advisors: Dr. Major Goodman & Dr. Matthew Krakowsky
Completion Date: Spring 2018

Research: My research focuses on the inheritance of teosinte crossing barrier-1 (tcb-1) and tcb-1-like alleles in maize for use in selective pollination systems. My projects are: 1) Screening maize landraces for the presence of specifically dominant tcb-1 and tcb-1-like alleles. 2) Crossing accessions containing dominant alleles into adapted material and evaluating performance of derived lines. 3) Creation of double-cross hybrids containing these alleles for specialty producers. 


Baljinder Kaur

Baljinder Kaur

Email: baljin@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D. , Crop Science
B.S., Biotechnology (Hons), Punjab University, India
M.S. Biotechnology, PAU, India
Advisor: Vasu Kuraparthy
Completion date: Fall 2016

Research: (1) Screening for thrips resistance in Gossypium hirsutum germplasm and mapping the genomic regions conferring thrips resistance using back cross generations. (2) Study the genetic architecture of photoperiodism in cotton and to characterize the genomic regions and/or genes controlling photoperiodism in diverse association panel using genotyping by sequencing.. 


George Khan

George Khan

Degree Program: Masters, Forestry
A.S., Tidewater Community College
B.S., Biology, Norfolk State University
Advisor: Dr. Ross Whetten

Research: The goals of this research are to develop and test efficient methods for discovery and analysis of species-specific SNP variation, to understand relationships between genetic variation and phenotypic variation with groups of closely related species, and to characterize the extent of gene flow between related populations using the latest DNA sequencing platform. 


Jennifer Kimball

Jennifer Kimball

Email: jakimba2@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: PhD, Crop Science
B.A., Biology, Ithaca College
M.S., Crop Science, Plant Breeding, N.C. State University
Advisor: Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis
Completion date: May 2015

Research: My research focuses on improving cold tolerance in St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum [Walt.] Kuntze). The objectives of my research are to 1) Evaluate the inheritance of cold tolerance and related traits in St. Augustinegrass; 2) Develop an efficient screening methodology for freezing tolerance in an environmentally-controlled setting; and 3) Construct a linkage map using a pseudo-F2 testcross strategy for a population segregating for cold hardiness to detect QTLs associated with traits collected in both field and controlled environments. 


Jennifer Kimball is now a Post Doc in the Plant Pathology department in Peter Balint-Kurti's lab and is working on basal resistance in sorghum.


Jonathan Kressin

Jonathan Kressin

Email: jpkressi@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science
M.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
B.S., Horticulture (Emphasis in plant genetics), New Mexico State University
Advisor: Dr. Dilip R. Panthee; Co-advisor: Dr. Frank J. Louws
Completion date: December 2017

Research: To identify genes associated with disease resistance to Ralstonia solanacearum (Bacterial Wilt) in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). My focus is on rootstock germplasm for grafted tomato production systems. I am working on fine mapping resistance QTLs for wilt resistance, develop molecular markers for resistance to allow for marker-assisted selection of resistant germplasm. I am also investigating alternative measurement methods for resistance and their modulation by major environmental factors. The work is being done in the context of a multi-institutional grant for investigating and developing the potential of vegetable grafting for the US vegetable production systems. 


Kristen Kump

Kristen Kump

Degree Program: Masters, Crop Science
B.S., Genetics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Advisor: Dr. James Hollland

Research: The objective of my research is to provide precise estimates of QTL positions to aid in the identification of the genes underlying quantitative resistance to Southern corn leaf blight. I have evaluated the maize Nested Association Mapping population, a set of recombinant inbred lines derived from crosses between inbred B73 and 25 other diverse founder inbred lines. I have also performed a joint analysis of four independent populations derived from a B73 by Mo17 cross. 


Jason D. Lattier

Jason D. Lattier

Email: jdlattier@gmail.com
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
B.S., Botany, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Tom Ranney
Completion date: December 2012

Research: My research involves the improvement of a range of ornamental crops important to the Southeast. Projects include 1) the in vitro regeneration and polyploid induction of Acer platanoides L. 'Crimson Sentry', 2) a survey of genome size and ploidy of Liriopogon cultivars and development of protocols for micropropagation and polyploidization of Liriope platyphylla Wang et Tang, and 3) investigating the heritability of fragrance and flower color in hybrid progeny of Rhododendron luteum Sweet 'Golden Comet' x Rhododendron atlanticum Rheder 'Snowbird'. 


Eddie Lauer

Eddie Lauer

Email: elauer@ncsu.edu
Degree program: MS Crop Science
BA Biology- Reed College
Currently Employed: Syngenta Biotechnology
Advisor: Gina Brown-Guedira
Expected Completion Date: May 2016

Research: I'm working with a wheat biparental mapping population, using a GBS dataset to identify QTL associated with dwarfism. 


Mengya Li

Mengya Li

Email: mli17@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: MS, Horticultural Science
B.Ag., Horticulture, Huazhong Agricultural University, China
B.A., English, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
Advisor: Penelope Perkins-Veazie
Completion date: Fall 2015

Research Topic: "Why ACC is hard to turn into ethylene in early apple fruitlet drop?" Past Research Project: Safe and Efficient Screening of Cybrids at Early Stage of Cell Division and Targeted Cybridization to Transfer Sterile Cytoplasm in Citrus, No. 091050410 ITPUS, China


Ying-Chen Lin

Ying-Chen Lin

Email: ylin15@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticulture, National Taiwan University
Advisor: Dr. Allan Brown
Completion date: May 2015

Research: My research focus on diploid blueberry mapping. The objectives are: 1) Construct a dense diploid blueberry genomic map using the SSR markers we have, then combine the SSR markers data with the EST markers data that Dr. Rowland generated. 2) Comparison between diploid and tetraploid map and 3) Evaluate QTLs related to several desired traits in blueberry.


Ying-Chen Lin is now working in UNC-Charlotte Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics Lab in Kannapolis


Luis Orlando Lopez-Zuniga

Luis Orlando Lopez-Zuniga

Email: lolopezz@ncsu.edu
Degree Program and Department: Plant breeding PhD, Crop Science
Previous degrees: Agronomist
Advisor: Peter Balint-Kurti
Expected completion date: July 2016

Research: The goal of my study is to identify loci and genes underlying elite levels of resistance observed in multiple disease resistance lines (MDR) in Maize by the creation of chromosome segment substitution line (CSSL) populations in which a whole genome tiling path of introgressions from MDR lines is captured in MDS genomic backgrounds. For this, four top-ranking MDR lines (NC304, NC344, Ki3 and NC262) are being used as donor parents and two bottom-ranking MDS lines (Oh7B, H100) as recurrent parents to produce eight CSSL populations. Also reciprocal CSSL population between B73 and Mo17 are being made. Mo17 highly MDR and B73 is highly MDS; their wide use in maize genetics makes these populations quite desirable.


Justin Ma

Justin Ma

Email: jmma@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.Sc.(Honours), Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
M.S., Crop Sciences, University of Illinois
M.S., Analytics, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Ramsey Lewis
Expected Completion Date: May 2016

My research projects include: 1) Evaluation of QTL in N. tabacum conferring resistance to black shank. I am evaluating the effect of two QTLs in different backgrounds on disease resistance, yield, and quality. I am also determining if the genes conferring resistance are the same as those involved in the production of two leaf surface chemicals. 2) Identification of the gene conferring interspecific lethality between N. tabacum and N. africana (H-factor) using a transposon-tagging system. 3) Anther culture as a novel source of variation. Previous research at NC State in the 80's determined anther culture could produce phenotypic and cytogenetic variation, including increased resistance to black shank. New knowledge and work in other species suggests underlying epigenetic changes are involved, including demethylation, transposon-activation and small RNA production


Shen Ma

Shen Ma

Degree Program: PhD, Horticultural Science 
B.S., Beijing Forestry University Beijing China
M.S., Mississippi State University
Advisor: Dr.Todd Wehner
Completion date: December 2013

Research: Iinheritance of resistance to the new race of downy mildew in watermelon and cantaloupe. 


Jeremy Machacek

Jeremy Machacek

Email: jlmachac@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Horticultural Science, NC State University
Advisors: Dr. Thomas Carter and Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton
Completion date: Spring 2016

Research: Developing new soy cultivars for improved weed control in a novel ultra-narrow row spacing production system. Weed management in organic soybean production is a major limiting production challenge. The goal is to develop breeding methods and novel soybean lines to increase the competitive ability of soybeans related to weed management. My project will have strong discipline overlapping, with collaborations from weed science, plant physiology, and crop production specialists. Phenotypic data will be analyzed using leaf area meters, light interception meters, pixel analyzing image software, and progressive visual ratings of plant growth. Objectives are: 1) Screen soybean cultivars for weed suppression ability for use as breeding material. 2) Determine the rate of canopy closer to shade out weeds, by increasing plant density through narrow row spacing. 3) Screen soybean genotypes, evaluate soybean lines more resistant to lodging under high plant density. Project outline: (a) conduct a canopy cover study to determine the time rate of canopy closer in narrow row spacing. (b) identify soybean genotypes more tolerant to lodging in high plant populations in narrow row spacing. (c) identify vigor traits, for example, faster rate of emergence, larger unifoliates, and rapid plant growth. (d) determine parent material for a weed suppression soybean breeding program.


Peter Maloney

Peter Maloney

Degree Program: Masters, Crop Science
B.S., Crop and Soil Science, Purdue University
Advisor: Dr. Paul Murphy

Research: Develop a marker program that can be used in marker assisted selection for traits that deal with winter hardiness. Objectives are (1) increase the size of the linkage group associated with the Fulghum X Norline mapping population and reanalyze data for new and existing QTL associated with winter hardiness component traits as well as (2) use association mapping to confirm and locate new loci dealing with winter hardiness component traits in the fall sown oat population. 


Patrick McCachren

Patrick McCachren

Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Turfgrass Science, NCSU
Advisor: Dr. Ramsey Lewis
Completion Date: Fall 2011

Research: 1) Map a population of Nicotiana tabacum using SSR markers to determine QTL associated with resistance to the pathogen Alternaria alternata, the causal agent of brown spot. This also includes the characterization of all individuals in the population for their resistance to the disease. 2) Investigate a new method for selecting paternal haploids using a purple plant phenotype (diploid) vs. green plant phenotype (haploid) selection system. Once haploids are selected, diploidy will be restored by crossing the original diploid back onto the haploid, in lieu of the normal midvein tissue culture process. The intent is to introduce cytoplasmic male sterility in one generation of crossing, and then restore diploidy in a manner that alleviates the risk of somaclonal variation. 3) Inoculate a group of plants with the TMV virus and test their progeny for increased resistance to black shank (Phytophthora nicotianae). The intent is to investigate whether TMV inoculation might cause genetic or epigenetic changes, such as disease resistance, that could be of value in a breeding program. 


James P. McNellie

James P. McNellie

Email: jpmcnell@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Plant Genetics and Breeding, Purdue University
B.A., Economics and History, Indiana University
Advisor: Dr. Dilip Panthee
Completion date: Spring 2015

Research: I am working with Dr. Dilip Panthee at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center on quantitative disease resistance for Bacterial Speck in fresh market tomatoes. The use of a 7,700 SNP array allows for an intraspecific cross to be used for a mapping population, something of a rarity in tomatoes because of low genetic diversity. By not having to contend with deleterious wild type alleles, moving resistance loci into other lines should be significantly quicker.


Keith R. Merrill

Keith Merrill

Email: krmerril@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science, minor in Statistics
B.S. Genetics and Biotechnology, Brigham Young University
M.S. Genetics and Biotechnology, Brigham Young University
Advisor: Dr. Gina Brown-Guedira
Completion Date: December 2014

Research: My research is part of the Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (T-CAP). I am doing association mapping in a panel of eastern soft red winter wheat breeding lines and cultivars for resistance to Powdery Mildew, Leaf Rust, Stripe Rust, Leaf Blotch, and Hessian Fly, with ~6500 SNP loci from the iSelect wheat 9K chip. I am also working on developing individual SNP assays for significant QTL for use by breeders in marker assisted selection. Additionally, I am working on several genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) projects, including library preparation, data analysis, and genetic mapping using GBS results. Further, as part of the T-CAP, I am also mentoring an undergraduate student in the laboratory and field with regard to experimental design, data collection and handling, and data analysis. 


Steven Mulkey

Steven Mulkey

Email: semulkey@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M. S., Crop Science
B.S. Plant Science, Cornell University
Advisor: Dr. Milla-Lewis
Completion Date: December 2012

Research: My project involves the examination of genetic diversity within the St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) germplasm, and to identify QTL conferring resistance to gray leaf spot disease (GLS) (Magnaporthe grisea). To this end my project has three goals: (1) Use of AFLP markers to identify pools of diversity amongst public and private germplasm collections; (2) Develop St. Augustinegrass-specific SSRs using a second generation sequencing platform; and (3) Analysis of a pseudo-F2 population segregating for GLS resistance in order to identify markers linked to the trait. 


Amanda Noble

Amanda Noble

Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Plant and Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Lilian Miranda
Completion date: Spring-Summer 2014

Research: My project is part of Dr. Miranda's research to improve the quality of soybean meal. Primary objectives are 1) identify high protein QTL in lines derived from a North Carolina germplasm line with an exotic pedigree, 2) study the interaction of high protein QTL from different exotic sources, and 3) evaluate the yield potential of these high protein lines. 


Kelly Oates

Kelly Oates

Degree Program: Masters, Plant Breeding, Horticulture
B.S., Horticulture, Virginia Tech
Advisor: Dr. Tom Ranney
website: www.kellyoates.com
Completion date: December 2011

Research: Breeding for improvement in black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia spp.) Breeding efforts are centered around improvement of ornamental characteristics and adaptability within the genus. Traits we would like to improve include: flower color, flower form, perennialness, and plant height. We utilize interspecific hybridization, induced polyploidy, and mutation breeding to achieve those goals 


Funda Ogut

Funda Ogut

Degree Program: Ph.D., Forestry
B.S. Forest Engineering, Karadeniz Technical University, TURKEY
M.S. Forest Engineering, Karadeniz Technical University, TURKEY
Advisor: Dr. Fikret Isik
Completion date: Spring 2012

Research: How can high-throughput SNP genotyping be applied to forest tree breeding programs? The objective of this research is to explore the parameters that are likely to be important for application of SNP technologies to breeding programs, and as a result to determine an analytical method which is well-suited to the population sizes and mating designs. 


Oliver Ott

Oliver Ott

Email: ooott@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D. Crop Science
B.S. Plant Science, Cornell University
Advisors: Major Goodman & Matthew Krakowsky
Estimated date of completion: May, 2014

Research: My first project assesses maize-teosinte introgression lines, to gain insight into the resistance of teosinte to Northern Leaf Blight. The second project that I have involves correlation of Gray Leaf Spot (GLS) resistance between inbreds and their hybrids, and the effect of increased resistance on the yield in the presence and the absence of GLS. The last project I have involves the Allelic Diversity Project; this is an ARS program that exploits the available genetic diversity in maize. A set of about 250 maize landraces is being backcrossed on to an ex-PVP inbred line, with an objective to screen these BC1 lines for resistance to diseases. 


Irene Palmer

Irene Palmer

Email: iepalmer@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.A. Environmental Studies, Centre College, Danville
Advisor: Dr. Tom Ranney
Completion date: Fall 2012

Research: Breeding and evaluation of perennial grasses for the landscape and bioenergy applications. The objectives of my research are to 1) evaluate biomass yield, nitrogen response, and regional adaptability of selected perennial grasses over three years at two locations in North Carolina as part of a larger ongoing effort to breed improved perennial grass cultivars ideally suited for the region, 2) develop protocols for the production of M. sinensis doubled haploids, 3) examine the mating interactions between diploid, triploid and tetraploid M. sinensis cytotypes and asses the multigenerational fertility of the progeny produced by interploid crosses and 4) to determine the effects of gamma irradiation on the fertility of M. sinensis. 


Stine Petersen

Stine Petersen

Email: speters@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.Sc., Natural Resources – specialization in Plant Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
M.Sc., Agriculture – specialization in Biological Processes and Crop Quality, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Advisor: Dr. Paul Murphy
Completion date: Spring 2015

Research: My project is to identify and map QTL and genes conferring resistance to Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) and powdery mildew, which both are major fungal diseases in wheat growing areas worldwide, including the state of North Carolina. The primary objectives of this project are to utilize molecular markers to 1) detect and validate QTL conferring resistance to FHB in two genetically connected populations and, 2) identify and map powdery mildew resistance genes introgressed from wild relatives of wheat (Aegilops sharonensis and Aegilops speltoides). 


Whitney Phillips

Whitney Phillips

Email: wdphilli@ncsu.edu
Degree & Dept: M.S., Horticulture Science
Previous Degrees: B.S. Horticulture Science, NC State University
B.S. Plant and Soil Science, NC State University
Advisor: Dr. Tom Ranney
Expected Completion Date: Spring 2016

Research Description: My research includes three different projects in Ornamental Plant Breeding. First, I am studying fertility and reproductive behavior of triploid Pyrus calleryana in attempts to develop a seedless, non-invasive plant. Other important aspects for selecting a tree for the industry includes having desirable flowers, form and fireblight resistance. The second project is utilizing somatic embryogenesis to segregate tissue chimeras in Prunus serrulata and develop a regeneration procedure for a cultivar with purple foliage that does not revert back to having green foliage. Lastly, I am performing a taxonomic revision of Fothergilla spp


Jill Recker

Jill Recker

Email: jrrecker@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics, Purdue University
M.S., Plant Breeding, N.C. State University
Advisor: Dr. Matt Krakowsky and Dr Peter Balint-Kurti
Completion date: Spring 2014

Research: My dissertation research is to identify alleles from Teosinte conferring resistance to two foliar diseases of Maize, Gray Leaf Spot and Southern Leaf Blight. I am also screening Ex-PVP maize inbred lines for the presence of a gametophyte factor gene. Lastly I am interested in recombining some of the superior GEM selections to create better lines with a significant proportion of exotic germplasm compared to the parental material.


David Roberts

David Roberts

Email: djrober3@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S. of horticultural science
B.S., Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Dennis Werner
Completion date: Fall 2015

Research: A comprehensive study of the Cercis genus, which will include: 1) A survey of the Cercis genome via flow cytometry. This survey will catalog the genome size of over 30 varieties, cultivars and hybrids found within 10 species of redbud and will allow for the identification of potential haploid and polyploid specimens within that genus. 2) A pigment analysis will be performed on various Cercis cultivars that exhibit variations in leaf coloration via spectroscopy. This analysis will quantify chlorophyll A and B concentrations as well as carotenoid and anthocyanin levels within the collected leaf tissue. 3) An allelism study that will track the phenotypic inheritance of multiple traits across several Cercis hybrids, which have been developed by Dr. Dennis Werner.


Rochelle Ruddle

Rochelle Ruddle

Email: rdstredn@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S. Crop Science
B.S., Plant Biology, N. C. State University
Adviser: Dr. Thomas Carter
Completion date: Summer 2014

Research: My project focuses on evaluating near-isogenic lines developed from a cross between cultivated (Glycine max) and wild soybean (G. soja) to determine the effects of the percent concentration of linolenic acid on yield. Another objective is to identify and map QTL and genes contributed by the G. soja parent conferring the high-linolenic phenotype.


Paul Ruddle

Paul Ruddle

Email: paruddle@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Applied Biotechnology, B.S.A., Biological Sciences, University of Georgia
Advisor: Dr. Lilian Miranda
Completion date: May 2013

Research: My project objectives are to identify loci responsible for variation in stearic acid content in soybean and to evaluate the effects of these loci on agronomic characteristics such as germination, field emergence, total oil, fatty acid composition, yield, and others. Combinations of high stearic acid loci and high oleic acid loci will also be evaluated for fatty acid content. The goal is to developing a high-yielding, high-stearic acid cultivar that would provide a valuable oil for solid fat end uses.

Paul completed the M.S. degree in plant breeding and is currently working on a M.S. in Analytics in the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NCSU and will graduate in May 2014.


Leah Ruff

Leah Ruff

Email: laruff@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Agronomy, Iowa State University
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Carter
Completion date: May 2013

Research: My research focuses on the evaluation of introgressed wild soybean alleles, Glycine soja, into cultivated soybean, Glycine max. My primary research objectives are to 1) determine if any useful yield alleles exist in G. soja and 2) predict the level of heterosis in G. soja x G. max lines.


Frieda Sanders

Frieda Sanders

Email: fesander@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science (Plant Breeding)
B.S., Plant and Soil Sciences/Horticulture; Tuskegee University; Tuskegee, AL
M.S., Plant Genomics/Genetics, Tuskegee University; Tuskegee, AL
Advisor: Dr. Andrea Cardinal
Completion date: July 2014

Research: My project is to determine the natural allelic diversity of soybean to discover new genes beyond FAD2 genes that increase oleic acid content. The specific objectives of this research project are: 1) Detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) that enhance oleic acid content in diverse soybean populations, 2) Precisely identify the genomic locations of QTL by performing association analysis in a genetically diverse panel of PIs, 3) Locate QTL on the soybean genome and establish a list of new candidate genes to investigate in the future.


Martin Sarinelli

Martin Sarinelli

Email: jmsarine@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
Agronomic Engineer, Universidad de La Plata, Argentina.
Advisor: Dr. Gina Brown-Guedira
Completion date: Fall 2017

Research: My project involves developing a protocol to make Genomic Selection in Wheat using Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) approach. GBS is a method that use enzymes to reduce the complexity of genomes to produce libraries of samples ready for sequencing. In row crop plant breeding GBS can help to connect genotype to phenotype and then be used to predict phenotypes that never were tested in the field. The primary goals of my research are: develop a model that allows make predictions from a training population set (make the genomic library, sequencing, develop a model of prediction with the genotypic and phenotypic data) and finally use this model to make genomic predictions of new populations of wheat and evaluate the accuracy of the model.


Jose Santa-Cruz

Jose Santa-Cruz

Degree Program: Ph.D., Plant Pathology
B.S., Agronomy, La Molina National Agriculture University, Lima, Peru
M.S. Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University
Advisor: Dr. Peter Balint-Kurti
Completion date: December 2011

Research: The overall goal of my research project is to use the available tools to study loci accounting for quantitative resistance against southern corn leaf blight in maize. Specific objectives include fine-mapping introgression 6A, which confers major effect on this quantitative resistance, identification and cloning of the gene that accounts for this effect, and field yield studies for possible future use of this resistance.


Mitchell J. Schumann

Mitchell J. Schumann

Email: mjschum2@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S., Horticultural Science
B.S., Plant and Environmental Soil Science, Texas A&M University
Advisor: Dr. Craig Yencho
Completion date: December 2014

Research: I am currently addressing the subject of internal heat necrosis and anthocyanin accumulation in potato. Internal heat necrosis (IHN) is a nonpathogenic necrosis that has a significant impact on the potato industry in the Southeastern United States. Atlantic, a major chipping variety, has reported as much as 11% of acreage left un-harvested in these areas due to its susceptibility to IHN. Anthocyanins in potato have generated interest as a potential replacement of certain synthetic food dies. My goal is to use modern technology in genetics to target IHN as well as the genes that allow for anthocyanin accumulation in potato flesh.


Andrew Sims

Andrew Sims

Email: adsims@ncsu.edu
Degree: M.S., Forestry, Tree Improvement Program
Previous: B.S., Statistics, NC State
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand
Expected Grad Date: May 2016

Research: My current project is analysis of genetic variation in wood specific gravity within and among genetic families of loblolly pine using minimally invasive rapid screening techniques. By using surrogate measurements from the IML Resistograph, trees can be screened quickly as opposed to taking wood cores from each tree. By avoiding the destructive effects and time consuming lab work of gathering and assessing wood cores, there can be realized gains in time and money spent, not to mention the minimization of harm to the stem.


Jessica Spencer

Jessica Spencer

Degree Program: Masters, Horticultural Science
B.S., Biochemistry and Biology, North Carolina State University
Advisors: Dr. Gina Fernandez and Dr. Bryon Sosinski

Research: Characterizing genetics of primocane fruiting Red Raspberry. I'm looking at a population of Rubus idaeus segregating for primocane fruiting and hope to find genetic markers to help make raspberry breeding more efficient.


Jesse Spitzer

Jesse Spitzer

Email: jespitze@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: M.S, Forestry
B.S., Forest Health, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand
Completion date: Spring 2014

Research: I will be beginning my Masters of Science in Forestry in the Fall of 2012 as part of the Tree Improvement Program. As an undergraduate, I have been involved in a variety of research projects on topics such as transgenic American chestnuts, mycorrhizal genetics, and vernal pool ecology. Coming from a forest health background I am interested in research with applications to both ecology and forestry. I am specifically interested in research involving forest pathology, forest genetics and ecophysiology. I am very excited to start my masters at NCSU and begin my research!

Jesse is a Forester for the City of New York


Katherine Drake Stowe

Katherine Drake

Email: kedrake@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Chemistry, North Carolina State University
M.S., Crop Science, Plant Breeding, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Ramsey Lewis
Expected Completion: May 2016


Research: My PhD research combines traditional breeding methods with molecular approaches, and the use of next generation sequencing to assist in the creation of improved tobacco cultivars for North Carolina growers, and farmers across the US. My projects focus on classifying and improving disease resistance in modern tobacco cultivars. Project one involves investigating the effect a genomic region introgressed from N. rustica has on field black shank resistance, its correlated effects on yield and quality, and the mechanism and durability of this resistance. Project two involves mapping disease resistance QTL in a K346 recombinant inbred line population. 


Steve Todd

Steve Todd

Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science
B.S., Biochemistry, Bradley University
M.S., Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences, Texas A&M University
Advisor: Dr. Craig Yencho

Research: Study heritability of sweetpotato amylose content for development of industrial sweetpotatoes. Use a quantitative genetics approach combined with molecular mapping to identify lines containing higher amylose content and QTL’s that influence amylose content in sweetpotatoes. This will allow modification of sweetpotato starch quality to facilitate conversion of high-starch sweetpotatoes to ethanol.


Steve Todd is working as a Post Doc in Tommy Carter's USDA-ARS Soybean Project.


Laura Townsend

Laura Townsend

Email: laura.townsend.a@gmail.com
Degree Program: M.S., Forestry
B.S., Environmental Studies, Florida International University
Advisor: Dr. Ross Whetten

Research: The main focus of my research is to find genetic variation in loblolly pine species located across the south eastern United States for adaptability to the current changing climatic variables. The objectives are: 1.) Employing Genotyping-by-sequencing to develop a cost-effective high-throughput genotyping method for pine species. 2.) Testing for various individual genetic marker loci (SNP’s) associated with growth/quality characteristics pertaining to climate variables. 

Laura works for Expression Analysis, Co. in RTP


Priyanka Tyagi

Priyanka Tyagi

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Biology, C.C.S. University, India
M.S., Biotechnology, C.C.S. University, India
Advisor: Dr. Vasu Kuraparthy

Research: Study the genetic architecture of photoperiodism in cotton. To characterize the genomic regions and/or genes controlling photoperiodism in cotton using interspecific hybrid mapping populations, conversion lines in combination with molecular markers and candidate genes. The specific objectives of this research are: (1) Genetic analysis and molecular mapping of loci controlling photoperiodism in cotton using F2:3 interspecific and intraspecific mapping populations (2) to investigate association analysis as a means of identifying loci associated with photoperiodism in cotton. (3) To develop near isogenic lines for the regions having highest effect on photoperiodism in cotton (4) Candidate gene analysis of photoperiodism in cotton.


Kyle M. VandenLangenberg

Kyle M. VandenLangenberg

Email: kyle.m.van@gmail.com
Degree Program: PhD, Horticultural Science
B.S., Genetics - University of Wisconsin Madison
M.S., Plant Breeding & Plant Genetics - University of Wisconsin Madison
Advisor: Dr. Todd Wehner
Expected Complete Date: December 2014

Research: My research focuses on the study of resistance to downy mildew in cucumbers. This includes studying the mechanisms, genetics, and inheritance of resistance.


Nathan Waldeck

Nathan Waldeck

Email: njwaldec@ncsu.edu
Degree Program and Department: M.S., Crop Science
B.S., Crop Sciences, University of Illinois
Advisor: Dr. Earl Taliercio
Expected Completion Date: May 2016

Research: Developing Populations of cultivated soybeans (Glycine max) crossed with wild soybean (Glycine soja) to expand diversity in soybean gene pool. I also am characterizing abiotic stress responses of wild soybean and identifying sources of resistance using gene expression studies. These sources can then be used to design crosses and characterize progeny.


Benjamin K. Winslow

Benjamin K. Winslow

Degree Program: Masters, Horticultural Science
B.S., Horticulture, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Craig Yencho

Research: Evaluation of Ipomoea L. Germplasm for Use in the Development of New Sweetpotato and Morning Glory Varieties. Research objectives are: (1) Screen currently available germplasm in Ipomoea L. and other related genera for use in the development of new ornamental sweetpotato and morning glory varieties; (2) Develop interspecific breeding strategies to introduce new traits into ornamental sweetpotatoes.


Margaret Worthington

Margaret Worthington

Degree Program: Ph.D. Crop Science 
B.S., Environmental Science, Duke University
M.S., International Agricultural Development and Horticulture and Agronomy, UC Davis
Advisor: Dr. Paul Murphy
Completion Date: December 2013

Research: 1) Develop breeding methods to increase the competitive ability of wheat against Italian ryegrass infestation and, 2) determine the genetics of resistance and molecular markers associated with novel powdery mildew and leaf rust resistances introgressed from wild relatives of wheat. Italian ryegrass is the most important limiting production factor for North Carolina organic wheat producers, and the evolution of herbicide resistance in Italian ryegrass populations poses a growing threat to conventional growers. Objectives are: (a) conduct an allelopathy bioassay on a large number of adapted and exotic winter wheat accessions and use association mapping to identify QTLs associated with allelopathic activity, (b) develop a simple and effective field method of measuring wheat suppression of, or tolerance to, ryegrass competition that is feasible in a large wheat breeding program, (c) identify promising parent material based on the allelopathic activity of the cultivar and/or morphological traits associated with superior competitive ability, and d) map the powdery mildew and leaf rust resistance genes intogressed from Triticum neglecta. in the germplasm line NC09BGTUM15. 


Jin Sherry Xiong

Jin Sherry Xiong

Degree Program: Ph.D., Forestry
B.S., Guangxi University, China
M.S., Beijing Forestry University, China
Advisors: Dr. Steve McKeand and Dr. Ross Whetten

Research: Forking defect is a serious stem-quality problem that has been found in many conifer species. Forked stems create large knots and irregular grain in lumber; and also reduce the stem strength and timber uniformity. Forking defects greatly decrease the wood quality, timber harvest and pulp yield, correspondingly reducing the economic value of the wood. Assessing forking in elite pedigrees will enable us to more successfully breed and deploy non-forked phenotypes. In my study, the genetic control of forking and the genetic correlation of forking to other traits will be investigated in loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.). In addition, quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing stem forks will be indentified by using the SNP data from outbred pedigree of loblolly pine.


Jaime Zapata Valenzuela

Jaime Zapata Valenzuela

Degree Program: Ph.D., Forestry
M.S., Forestry, University of Concepcion, Chile
Advisor: Dr. Steve McKeand

Research: Develop criteria of evaluating specific molecular markers called SNPs and their relationship with phenotypes that are already present in clonal tests of Pinus taeda administrated by the Tree Improvement Program.


Franco Villegas

Franco Villegas

Degree Program: M. S., Crop Science. 
B.S., Biology, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Lima, Peru.
Advisors : Dr. Thomas G. Isleib and Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis.

Research: Early-Maturity is an urgently needed trait for peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), specially in regions of the world with short growing season and/or high probability of early frost such as NC. However, maturity level is an quantitative trait with many genes, the environment and interactions between genes and environment, affecting the final value for a particular genotype. Traditional breeding strategies find it difficult to improve for such a complex trait. The objectives of my research is first to study of heritability and variance components of early maturity in A. hypogaea and then QTL mapping of the same trait using SSR markers and two populations of RILs, with the final goal of applying MAS. Other more easily assessed traits have also been measure with the hope of finding a highly heritable trait with strong correlation to early-maturity, in order to assess the possibility for an indirect selection strategy. 


Benard Yada

Benard Yada

Degree Program: Ph.D., Horticultural Science 
B.S., Agriculture, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda 
M.S., Crop Science, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Advisor: Dr. Craig Yencho
Completion date: December 2013

Research: Development of SSR and SNP markers and QTL analysis for disease and pest resistance in sweetpotato. Specific objectives . 1) Develop high density linkage SSR and SNP maps for populations segregating for sweetpotato virus disease and weevil resistance. 2) Phenotype the populations for disease and weevil resistance. 3) Profile phytochemical (octadecyl and hexadecyl ester) production conferring weevil resistance in the mapping population. 4) Detect and validate the QTL associated with field and phytochemical basis of weevil resistance and SPVD resistance in sweetpotato.


Binbin Zhou

Binbin Zhou

Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Applied Biological Science, Zhejiang University
Advisor: Dr. Rongda Qu
Completion date: Summer 2014

Research: The goal is to improve the pathogen resistance of turf grass, especially for gray leaf spot and brown patch. We are interested on introducing foreign genes which are related to fungi resistance into the Tall fescue, with the method of Agrobaterium Mediated Transformation, during they are in the stage of immature callus. Brown patch and gray leaf spot are two main diseases for growing tall fescue, and the resistance for the gray leaf spot has already in control the lab experiment by introducing some foreign gene into the callus, while brown patch is still a big problem, so now we are more focused on improving its resistance to brown patch. 


Charlie Zila

Charlie Zila

Email: ctzila@ncsu.edu
Degree Program: Ph.D., Crop Science
B.S., Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding, Purdue University
M.S., Crop Science, North Carolina State University
Advisor: Dr. Jim Holland
Completion date: December 2013

Research: 1) Genome-wide association study of quantitative resistance to Fusarium ear rot in maize, and 2) breeding maize for improved resistance to Fusarium ear rot and fumonisin contamination. 

Charlie Zila is a soybean breeder for DuPont Pioneer located in Windfall, Indiana.