Mohsen Mohammadi, PhDMohsen Mohammadi is showing the spike of wheat to a news person.

Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi’s training involved field-based breeding, molecular biology, and genome-wide prediction-based breeding. In his PhD research, he identified novel dehydration responsive genes in wheat roots using global transcriptional profiling. Prior to joining Purdue Agronomy, he has been a traditional and marker-based wheat and barley breeder. He also developed a genome-wide breeding algorithm know as PopVar (Mohammadi et al., 2015) that enables predicting genetic variance expected from biparental crosses. At Purdue Agronomy, his role is to provide a learning environment for genetics, quantitative genetics, and breeding. His research program involves trait identification and genetics. 


Sintayehu Daba, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Sintayehu Daba smiling in the greenhouse after watering his wheat and barley plants


Dr. Daba is a small grain breeder with over 15 years of barley and wheat breeding experience in the Ethiopian Barley Program and in the US. During his PhD at North Dakota State University, he characterized agronomic, malt quality, and disease resistance traits in barley landraces and breeding lines from Ethiopia, International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), and North Dakota State University (NDSU). He is investigating long-term and short-term signatures of selection at the genome scale in wheat. He uses a wheat population that represents 200 years of history in the United States. This population consists of accessions developed prior and after the Green Revolution. Dr. Daba is also mapping agronomic traits in wheat using GWAS and QTL mapping for kernel weight, Plant height, and Fusarium head blight (FHB) disease resistance.



Dr. Xiangjun Zhou, Research ScientistDr. Zhou's photo


Dr. Zhou received his PhD in Plant Genetics in Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has over 15 years’ experience studying signal transduction in abiotic stress tolerance, regulation of carotenoid biosynthesis, and biotechnology. He currently works on functional analysis of genes involved in root development and yield.




Blake Russell, Graduate Student


Blake looking at wheat root in greenhouse

Blake is a graduate research assistant and a PhD student in the Department of Agronomy. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Indiana Wesleyan University where he was involved in Dr. Miller’s plant biology lab and a member of the men’s golf team. Blake’s research aims at a) characterizing nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and b) studying yield potential contributing traits in soft red winter wheat germplasm, He uses yield trials in contrasting nitrogen environments to characterize NUE traits. He also uses the US SRWW elite panel (USEP) to identify genotype-phenotype relationship for yield related traits. After almost half a year of working on his GWAS pipeline, Blake just started re-analyzing his GWAS project using the hapmap created based on IWGSCv1. Contact:

Rupesh Gaire, Graduate Student

Portrait of Rupesh Gair

Rupesh completed his BSc in Agriculture at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He continued his education at the University of Georgia, US towards a Master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics, where he studied genomics and natural allelic variation of genes involved in flowering time and plant architecture in blueberry. His research at Purdue aims at implement and advance genome-wide predictive approaches for traits of economic importance such as yield and FHB resistance. Rupesh studies genome-wide diversity and predictions using >400 SRWW lines developed at Purdue (the Purdue panel). His field program involves two years of complete field-based phenotyping for yield traits and FHB resistance.


Savannah Beyer, Graduate Student

 Picture of Savannah Beyer

Savannah graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Genetics. During that time, she worked at the USDA-ARS Cereal Crops Research Unit on the genetics of barley to improve malt quality. She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Agronomy 320 Genetics and a Research Assistant for Dr. Mohammadi in the Agronomy Department at Purdue University. Her research involves candidate gene discovery of genes that are important for root growth and development in wheat. Based on the results of gene discovery project, Savannah is pursuing few avenues for either validation of candidate genes or functional genomics studies. She has started to produce a well-crafted literature review chapter for her thesis. The latest ideas we shared was about how to define soil.  


 Seth Tolley, Graduate Student


Seth is a graduate research assistant in the Department of Agronomy.  In fall 2017, Seth planted two field standard size plot experiments for a high-throughput phenotyping study. He will be a part of a team that collects aerial and proximal high throughput sensing. His role, in particular, is to help the team by producing on-the-ground true phenotypes for correlative and modeling studies. Seth works in the interface of breeding and physiology. Recently, he finished a greenhouse phase of a root experiment in contrasting nitrogen environments. We will see what story his data tell. 


Robert Z Shrote, Undergraduate Researcher 


Picture of Robert

Robert Shrote is a junior in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. Robert is leading a functional genomics research using targeted genome editing tool i.e., CRISPR/Cas9 to study the role of a little protein in plant abiotic stress tolerance. Besides this exciting research, Robert is majoring in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology and minoring in Statistics and Biochemistry. His research interests include using high-throughput sequencing, molecular markers, and computer systems to identify trait loci and solve breeding problems.  

Syeda Qamar Batool, Visiting Scholar

Syeda Qamar Batool is a visiting research scholar at Purdue University. At Purdue, Batool’s research aims at physiological responses of wheat to abiotic stress. She is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Fatima Jinnah Women University, The Mall Rawalpindi-Pakistan. In her PhD research in Pakistan, she is working on molecular genetics and assessing genetic variations within and among wheat germplasm (Triticum sp) for Karnal bunt disease. As an M. Phil. student and Research Associate, she worked for three years in a project related to the estimation of foliar and rust diseases severity in rainfed areas using GIS and remote sensing application with Dr. Shazia Iftikhar. Batool also worked with Dr. Farooqi for decontamination of arsenic from irrigated soil.



                         Former lab members                           

Khoshal Saber (Undergraduate Researcher). Khoshal was involved in greenhouse activities of the wheat breeding program.

Madison Kramer (Undergraduate Researcher). Madison was involved in greenhouse activities of the wheat breeding program.

Alexis Himes (Undergraduate Researcher). Alexis helped in initial steps of characterization of Arabidopsis and wheat mutants.

Zach Hartley (Undergraduate Researcher). Zach Hartley learned theoretical and practical aspects of evaluating Fusarium head blight resistance in wheat, a project funded by the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.

Dr. Prabin Bajgain. Prabin obtained a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Minnesota. He worked on the analysis of large scale next generation sequencing data. Specifically, he performed bioinformatic analysis of nitrate and ammonium transporters in wheat and used RNA-seq data to characterize in root and in-shoot expression of these gene families. Prabin joined a breeding program at the University of Minnesota after working for Purdue for about two years.

Dr. Mina Rostamza. Dr. Rostamza holds a PhD in Agronomy from Iran. Dr. Rostamza’s research goals were 1) phenotyping roots in a collection of soft red winter wheat lines and 2) evaluating the response of a collection of wheat to varying availability of nitrogen. Dr. Rostamza was in our program for about 7 months as a postdoctoral research assistant.

Allyson Grasso (Undergraduate Researcher). Allyson was a Biochemistry 498 independent research undergraduate student in my laboratory.  After two semesters in my laboratory, she graduated and pursued a Master’s in chemistry education at the University of Virginia.

Christian Webb. (Undergraduate Researcher). Christian was the pillar of field work activity in the summer of 2015. In fall 2015, he started a PhD program in plant pathology at Kansas State University.


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