Rice joins department faculty as assistant professor

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

by Fran tenBensel Benne | Agronomy and Horticulture

Brian Rice began Jan. 1 as an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. He has a 70% research and a 30% teaching appointment.

Rice is working with plant breeding programs in the United States and abroad to develop strategies that enable genetic gain with simultaneous trait discovery. He hopes to eventually work with agronomy and horticulture department programs, including Katherine Frels’ small grains breeding and George Graef’s soybean breeding.

Internationally, he collaborates with a plant breeding program in Haiti at Quisqueya University. A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant funds Rice to collaborate with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and National Agricultural Research Systems network in Africa.

“By beneficially affecting agriculture, we can positively affect people’s lives,” Rice said. “This is particularly true in parts of the world where most farming is done in smallholder farming systems.”

He is also preparing to teach a Quantitative Genetics class in the fall or spring semester.

Growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Rice became interested in plant genetics because he understood how integral agriculture is to society. At the age of 20, he moved to the United States to start college at Purdue University.

Rice earned a Bachelor of Science in plant genetics, breeding, and biotechnology from Purdue University and a Master of Science and a doctorate in quantitative genetics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Before coming to Nebraska, he was a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Geoff Morris at Colorado State University.

Rice feels Nebraska has a reputation for outstanding research in plant genetics, and he said the decision to accept an offer from UNL was easy. “The agronomy and horticulture department showed commitment to helping me succeed in this position,” he said.

Rice said he enjoys Lincoln’s classic, college-town vibe with its mix of university culture and local pride. “I look forward to visiting the local breweries and restaurants as well as all the local museums,” he said.

In his free time, he likes to play and follow rugby and Jiu-Jitsu. He owns two American Pit Bull Terriers that keep him busy.

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Brian Rice
Brian Rice