Features

Ruthie Angelovici
Ruthie Angelovici, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences University of Missouri
Julia Bailey-Serres Julia Bailey-Serres, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics, Director, Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA
Dr. Bailey-Serres is a professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and the Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology at UC Riverside. Her recognitions include the USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award for Outstanding Agricultural Research to Enhance Submergence Tolerance in Rice and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Her group studies plant responses to flooding and other abiotic stresses from the molecular to the whole plant level. Her group dissected the role of the SUB1A gene in conferring tolerance to submergence in rice and has pioneered technologies that uncover gene activity in specific cell types.
David Braun David Braun, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Biological Sciences, Interdisciplinary Plant Group, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Dr. Braun is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is also the Director of the Missouri Maize Center. Prior to MU, he was an Associate and Assistant Professor at Pennsylvania State University. He did his postdoctoral research at the University of California-Berkeley, his graduate training at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and his undergraduate studies at the University of California-San Diego.
Patrick Brown Patrick Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Crop Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
Dr. Brown received his B.A. in Biology from Reed College and his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Cornell University. Dr. Brown’s research focuses on the use of high-throughput genotyping, phenotyping, and quantitative genetics to accelerate genetic gain in plant breeding programs. Current projects include improvement of biomass yield and water use efficiency in sorghum, and improvement of oxidative stress resistance in maize.
Christopher Dardick
Christopher Dardick, Ph.D., Molecular Biologist (Plants), USDA-ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Lab, Kearneysville, WV
Dr. Dardick received his B.S. in Biology from Salisbury University and his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Maryland. Dr. Dardick’s research couples genomics techniques with biotechnology and breeding to better understand the genetic influences on plant architecture. Using peach trees as a model system, a number of novel genes were identified that control tree size as well as the growth orientation of shoots and roots.
Natalia de Leon
Natalia de Leon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin
Dr. de Leon received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Natalia’s research is dedicated to the development of an integrated research platform to study the genetic architecture and functional genetic basis of economically relevant traits in maize. Her research employs genome-based technologies and analytical tools to study the inheritance of complex traits by linking variation observable at the molecular level with phenotypic variation. Utilizing population genomics approaches, she also investigates the impact of artificial selection on allele frequencies in populations as a mechanism to genetically dissect traits of interest.
John Doebley
John Doebley, Ph.D., Professor, Genetics Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Dr. Doebley holds a B. A. from West Chester State College (1974) and a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1980).  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences USA (2002), a Fellow in the AAAS (1991), and a member of Phi Kappa Phi (1975) and Sigma Xi (1980). In 2005, he served as President of the American Genetic Association. Doebley is a geneticist who studies how genes control changes in plant morphology during domestication with a focus on maize. 
Andrea Eveland Andrea Eveland, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Assistant Member, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Dr. Eveland received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida where she studied sugar metabolism and signaling during seed set in maize.  As an NSF post-doctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, she trained at the interface of developmental genetics and bioinformatics focusing on transcriptional networks controlling maize inflorescence architecture.  Eveland started her lab at the Danforth Center in 2014 where her research integrates experimental and computational approaches to investigate gene regulatory mechanisms controlling various aspects of plant architecture in maize and other cereal crops.
Matthew Hufford Matthew Hufford, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Dr. Hufford is an evolutionary geneticist studying the processes of initial maize domestication and subsequent adaptation to a number of different environments during global crop diffusion.  Such studies can inform our understanding of the domesticated phenotype and provide the basic information necessary for plant breeding in the face of climate change.
Prof. Dr. Dirk Inze Prof. Dr. Dirk Inzé, Director, Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Inzé is a global leader in plant biology. He is a Full Professor at Ghent University (Belgium) and Director of the Department of Plant Systems Biology of the VIB.  Under his directorship, the Department of Plant Systems Biology –currently employing 340 persons– became one of the world leading centers for advanced plant sciences. His own research ambition is to decipher the complex molecular networks regulating plant organ growth and crop yield.   Dr. Inzé’s research was recognized by numerous awards. He owns a prestigious advanced ERC grant and his work received >40.000 citations (H-factor 108).
Rob Martienssen Rob Martienssen, Ph.D., HHMI-GBMF Investigator, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Todd Mockler
Todd Mockler, Ph.D., Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator and Associate Member, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Dr. Mockler is Associate Member and Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, an adjunct professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, and an adjunct professor at University of Missouri.  Since joining the Danforth Center, he has been named the Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator.  He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of California – Los Angeles and his B.A. in Molecular Biology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  His research areas include plant genome sequencing and analysis, gene regulatory networks, circadian systems, abiotic stress responses, and high-resolution phenotyping.  His published work has provided critical tools and approaches for using large-scale biological datasets to understand complex systems.  Todd has been a Principal Investigator for several international consortia that have sequenced plant genomes, including the Brachypodium distachyon, Oropetium thomaeum, strawberry, and black raspberry genomes.
Michele Morgante Michele Morgante, Ph.D., Scientific Director of Instituto di Genomica Applicata and Full Professor of Genetics, University of Udine, Italy
Stephen Pearce
Stephen Pearce, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Dr. Pearce gained his Ph.D. from Rothamsted Research, U.K., before moving to UC Davis as a postdoc in Jorge Dubcovsky’s laboratory where he researched flowering development, cold tolerance, and grain quality in wheat.  In February 2016, Dr. Pearce joined Colorado State University as assistant professor.  His lab is applying molecular biology and genomics approaches to understand the genetic basis of important traits in wheat.  Current projects include studies to characterize the determinants of spikelet number and grain size, developing strategies to improve the nutritional quality of wheat, and investigating abiotic stress resistance, such as frost tolerance.  
Michael Purugganan Michael Purugganan, Ph.D., Dorothy Schiff Professor of Genomics, Dean for Science, and Professor of Biology, New York University, NY; Co-Director of the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi
Dr. Purugganan’s research focuses on the genomic basis of plant evolution, focusing particularly on crop species. Prior to joining the NYU faculty in 2006, he was the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Genetics at North Carolina State University.
Robert Stupar Robert Stupar, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota
Dr. Stupar received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin in 2005 and joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 2008.  He holds a 25% teaching appointment and a 75% research appointment in the area of legume functional and biochemical genomics.  His primary research interests are in soybean genomics, with an emphasis on genome variation and translating genome engineering technologies into crop plants.
Nigel Taylor Nigel Taylor, Ph.D., Dorothy J. King Distinguished Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO
Ben Trevaskis
Ben Trevaskis, Ph.D., Group Leader – Crop Genomics for Yield and Adaptation (RP1G2), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO Agriculture), Canberra, Australia
My research group focuses on understanding how cereal crops sense the passing seasons in order to time flowering to coincide with optimal conditions in spring.  Primarily we are studying the molecular pathways that mediate the vernalization response, whereby the prolonged cold of winter promotes spring flowering.  We are also trying to find out why the process of flowering reduces frost tolerance. This phenomenon causes problems for Australian wheat and barley growers because some years there are heavy frosts at the time when crops flower, which reduce or destroy harvests. If tolerance to spring frosts could be bred into crops this would be of great benefit to the Australian grains industry. More broadly I spend a lot of time wondering how plants actually sense low-temperatures, a key theme to both the flowering and frost tolerance research.  
Esther van der Knaap Esther van der Knaap, Ph.D., Professor, Principal Investigator, Department of Horticulture, Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, and Plant Center, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
The research in the van der Knaap laboratory focuses on the regulation of fruit shape and size in Solanaceous crops. The main focus is on tomato where selections resulted in a huge variety in fruit form. This morphological diversity provides excellent resources for studies in plant genetics, development, and organ patterning. The understanding of the molecular bases of diversity in fruit form also offers novel insights in the evolutionary processes that underlined vegetable crop domestication and selection. After her Ph.D., Dr. van der Knaap was a post-doctoral researcher in Plant Breeding at Cornell University. She moved to Ohio State University in 2001 where she initiated her research program on tomato fruit shape and size. In September 2015, she joined the faculty in Horticulture and the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics at the University of Georgia in Athens.   Dr. van der Knaap received her BS/MS from Wageningen University in 1990 in Plant Pathology and her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1998 in Genetics.
Virginia Walbot
Virginia Walbot, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Professor Walbot received a Stanford A.B. specializing in plant ecology.  Her Ph.D. from Yale concerned plant development, followed by biochemistry training at University of Georgia.  At Washington University, she collaborated with University of Missouri to analyze maize development and to initiate cloning of maize nuclear and mitochondrial genes.   At Stanford, her lab pioneered electroporation, discovered the intron enhancement effect, built the first steroid-dependent gene expression cassettes for plants, cloned and exploited the master Mutator transposon, and identified novel host regulation of Mutator in anthers.  The lab now focuses on anthers and recently defined hypoxia as triggering germinal specification.
Harkamal Walia
Harkamal Walia, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Plant Molecular Physiologist, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Dr.  Walia received his Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of California, Riverside. His research interest is in understanding the physiological and molecular basis of abiotic stress tolerance in cereals. His program uses genomics and phenomics approaches for discovering novel genes and genetic variants for improving crop performance in sub-optimal growing conditions.
Randall Wisser
Randall Wisser, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Plant Genetics, Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Dr. Wisser is currently a faculty member in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware. He completed his B.S. degree in Biological Sciences at Florida International University and his Ph.D. at Cornell University, followed by a postdoc at North Carolina State University. His research is on crop genetic diversity and breeding, with focal areas on response to selection, environmental adaptation, and disease resistance. This work is geared toward discovering and elucidating the functions and modes of action of genomic variants that give rise to quantitative, phenotypic effects. In parallel, he is developing experimental designs and approaches to achieve these goals allied with the development of germplasm resources for genetics and breeding initiatives.
Bing Yang
Bing Yang, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Dr. Yang received his Ph.D. in plant pathology at Kansas State University.  His research focuses on 1)the  molecular mechanism of plant/microbe interactions and crop disease resistance engineering; and 2) the development and application of TALEN and CRISPR technologies for targeted genome editing in plant species.  For the past 19 years, Dr. Yang has identified and characterized several important naturally-occurring TAL effectors in the rice pathogen, Xanthomonas oryzae, for their disease-promoting ability and, most recently, he has helped harness the disease-causing TAL effectors for targeted gene editing.  His group has generated the first disease-resistant crop plant by using the TALEN technology.
For questions, please contact Kathleen Mackey by email at kmackey@danforthcenter.org or by phone at 314-587-1203.