Nebraska Plant Breeding Symposium Committee

Mary Happ

Mary Happ (Chair)

  • Ph.D. student, program in Agronomy, specialization Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • B.S. Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, minors in Chemistry and International Studies

Adviser: David Hyten

E-mail

Happ's work focuses on quantifying phenotypic plasticity in soybeans and exploiting that within a breeding program to maximize trait stability across target geographical regions. Currently, breeder's are restricted to assessing stability until late in the breeding process, where few lines are available for selection. Happ is exploring the potential utility of several genomics approaches to provide an early selection method that enriches multi-environment trials with stable material.

Samantha McConaughy

Samantha McConaughy (Vice Chair)

  • Ph.D. candidate, program in Agronomy, specialization Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • M.S. Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • B.S. Genetics, Iowa State University

Adviser: David Hyten

E-mail

McConaughy's research focuses on mapping recombination hotspots in soybean. She has been the vice-chair for the Plant Breeding Symposium in 2014, 2016, and 2018. She was the president of the Agronomy and Horticulture Graduate Student Association from 2014-2015. She is an active member in our department currently serving on the safety and curriculum committee.

Madhav Bhatta

Madhav Bhatta

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Major: Plant Breeding and Genetics, Minor: Statistics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • M.S. Crop physiology and Production, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • B.S. Plant Breeding, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

Adviser: P. Stephen Baenziger

E-mail

Bhatta’s research interests are in exploiting untapped genetic diversity from landraces and wild relatives such as synthetic wheat, identify novel genes or genomic regions controlling resistance to several biotic and abiotic stresses, and improve quality (protein and minerals) of cereals and utilize it in an elite crop improvement program. He is a recipient of Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program.

Daniel Santana de Carvalho

Daniel Santana de Carvalho

  • Ph.D. candidate, program in Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • M.S. Genetics and Biodiversity, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
  • B.S. Biological Sciences, Catholic University of Salvador

Adviser: James Schnable

E-mail

Carvalho’s main research involves studying the C4 photosynthetic pathway in panicoid grasses using tools from comparative genomics and transcriptomics. The insights obtained from his work will provide a better understanding of the genes involved in the C4 pathway, as well as identifying new genes previously undescribed. Currently, he is also studying differences in photosynthetic and growth rates, as well as water use efficiency (WUE), across multiple C4 grasses for finding the main features related to better WUE in these plants and use them as breeding targets.

Hannah Donoho

Hannah Donoho

  • M.S. Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska- Lincoln
  • B.S. Crop Sciences (Plant Biotechnology) and Molecular Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Adviser: P. Stephen Baenziger

E-mail  

Donoho is a first-year master’s student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Plant Breeding and Genetics under Dr. P. Stephen Baenziger. Her work focuses on hybrid wheat breeding, specifically assessing female traits such as pollen receptivity, floral gape and other characteristics key to the success of hybrid wheat. In addition to serving as Catering and Symposium Supplies Committee Chair for the NPBS Committee, Hannah enjoys being active in the AHGSA, line dancing with friends, and discovering new coffee shops.

Thais Egreja

Thais Egreja

  • Ph.D. student, Agronomy and Horticulture with specialization in Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • M.S. Plant Pathology, "ESALQ" - University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • B.S. Agronomic Engineering, Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil

Adviser: Joshua Herr

E-mail  

Egreja's current research aims to analyze the responses of resistant and susceptible maize to infection by Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis and Xanthomonas vasicola pv. vasculorum at the transcriptome level using high-throughput sequencing approaches. Her work may lead to the discovery of key plant and microbial genes that characterize these host-microbe interactions possibly providing new strategies for disease resistance.

Preston Hurst

Preston Hurst

  • M.S. program, Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • B.S. Agroecology, University of Wyoming

Adviser: James Schnable

E-mail 

Hurst's research involves computational biology and its application to agriculture and crop breeding. He is currently working on a project utilizing LIDAR data to analyze maize phenotypes.

Shawn Jenkins

Shawn Jenkins

  • Ph.D. student, Agronomy, Plant Breeding and Genetics Specialization, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • M.S. Plant Breeding and Genetics, South Dakota State University
  • B.S. Agronomy, South Dakota State University

Adviser: George Graef

E-mail  

Jenkins’s research focuses on utilizing a multi-sensor high throughput phenotyping system for identification of drought tolerance and yield traits in soybean.

Evan LaBrant

Evan LaBrant

  • Graduate Research Assistant, Ph.D. program, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • M.S. program in Agronomy, specialization Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • B.S. Plant Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona

Adviser: Rebecca Roston

E-mail 

LaBrant's research projects revolve around lipid trafficking to, from, and within chloroplasts. The formation of photosynthetic membranes requires coordination between both chloroplast and endoplasmic reticulum lipid pathways, including the export of fatty acids from plastids and the import of thylakoid membrane lipid precursors. The formation of thylakoids, which represents one of the most abundant and biologically important membrane systems in nature, is poorly understood. Evan is working to identify molecular and structural components of lipid transfer from the inner envelope membrane to the thylakoid.

Leandra Marshall

Leandra Marshall

  • Ph.D. program, Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • B.S. Chemistry and Biology, Westmont College

Adviser: David Holding and Edgar Cahoon

E-mail

Marshall is a first-year Agronomy and Horticulture Ph.D. graduate student. She received her bachelor's degrees in Chemistry (Biochemistry track) and Biology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California and moved to Nebraska to study maize plant genetics and MAS breeding of the opaque2 modifier gene. Her current work involves drafting an in-lab procedure for HPLC amino acid profiling and breeding quality protein popcorn.

Ravi Mural

Ravi Mural

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • M.S. Applied Sciences, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
  • M.S. Genetics and Plant Breeding, University of Agricultural Sciences Bangalore, India
  • B.Sc. Agriculture, University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad, India

Adviser: George L. Graef

E-mail 

Mural's research focuses on soybean breeding and the major objective of his research is to identify genomic regions that influence oil, protein and carbohydrate concentrations (sucrose, raffinose and stachyose) in soybean seed.

Semra Palali Delen

Semra Palali Delen

  • Ph.D. candidate, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • B.S. Department of Field Crops, Ankara University, Turkey

Adviser: P. Stephen Baenziger

E-mail 

Palali Delen came to the University of Nebraska in January 2017 to begin work on her doctorate. Her research is focused on hybrid wheat, specifically variation for Cadmium, Zinc, and Iron concentration in F2 hybrid wheat.

Ying Ren

Ying Ren

  • Ph.D. program, Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Adviser: David Holding

E-mail

Ying is a doctoral student in her fourth year. Her research interests are:

  1. Biochemical and molecular approaches to determine phenotypic difference in maize seeds.
  2. Development of genetic markers to facilitate the breeding process in trait introgression programs.
  3. Mechanisms of kernel modification in Quality Protein Maize lines.
  4. Expression network of the Opaque 2 transcription factor.
  5. Whole genome sequencing of popcorn lines for development of genetic markers used for background selection.