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The Wheat Breeder



Mohsen in greenhouse

Mohsen Mohammadi, PhD

Dr. Mohsen Mohammadi’s training involved field-based and genome-wide prediction based plant breeding. He completed a PhD degree in plant molecular biology of drought response in wheat root, where he identified novel dehydration responsive genes in wheat roots using global transcriptional profiling. At Purdue Agronomy, his role is to provide a learning environment for genetics, quantitative genetics, and plant breeding. His research involves genetics of (and breeding for) root and yield-related traits. In particular, Dr. Mohammadi uses genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and large-scale -omics approaches to identify candidate genes with implications in root development and yield formation in wheat.


Brandon in his office


Brandon Chafin, Administrative Assistant

Brandon Chafin is an alumnus of Purdue University. In May 2016, he completed his B.S. in Computer Graphics Technology. He was hired in October 2016 to provide technological and clerical support to the Department of Agronomy. He brings experience in website design, computer graphics capabilities and expertise with a variety of software products. He loves the Purdue culture and enjoys being a part of the Agronomy Family.






Daba in greenhouse

Dr. Sintayehu Daba, Breeding Scientist

Dr. Daba is a barley and wheat breeder. He took initiative to create the US Wheat History Panel at Purdue, which is a wheat population that represents 200 years of growing and breeding history in the United States. This population consists of accessions developed prior to and after the Green Revolution, with wide phenotypic variation. The results of kernel weight GWAS from this population was published in Frontiers in Plant Science. Dr. Daba also uses -omics approaches to identify genes that are relevant to grain yield formation in wheat. He has been integral to the success of Uniform Eastern Trials and Five-State Trials at Purdue over the past three years. During his PhD at North Dakota State University, he characterized agronomic, malt quality, and disease resistance traits in barley landraces and breeding lines.



Blake looking at wheat root in greenhouse

Blake Russell, Graduate Student

Blake is a graduate 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 traits that contribute to yield potential in soft red winter wheat germplasm. He uses yield trials in contrasting nitrogen environments to characterize NUE traits. He also uses the US elite panel (USEP) to identify genotype-phenotype relationship for yield-related traits. Besides his research responsibilities, Blake is one of the two teaching assistants for AGRY 320 “Undergraduate Genetics” in fall 2018. 



Dr. Zhu in lab


Dr. Xiangjun Zhou, Molecular Biologist

Dr. Zhou received his PhD in Plant Genetics in Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zhou studies an array of genes that were identified in root tips by -omics approaches. He currently focuses on functional analysis of a E3 ubiquitin ligase gene, with a possible role in root growth and development.








mohsin in greenhouseSyed Mohsin Abbas, Crop Physiologist

Mohsin recently graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad’s Crop Physiology PhD program, where he completed his research work in Dr. Rashid Ahmad’s laboratory, Department of Agronomy. During PhD, he accomplished his goal of productivity enhancement and drought tolerance of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.). He worked as research associate in the same laboratory and focused his research on drought stress physiology of Camelina sativa L. to introduce it as a resilient crop in Pakistan. He was a teaching assistant of two graduate courses i.e. C.Phy-701 and C.Phy-709. In addition, he has also been an active member of University Horse Riding Club for eight years and presented university tent pegging team at national and international level as team captain. Mohsin assists in the investigation of spike fertility traits in the US Wheat Historical Panel and genetic mapping of spike fertility traits loci. 



Picture of Savannah Beyer

Savannah Beyer, Graduate Student

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 served for two semesters as a graduate teaching assistant for Agronomy 320 Genetics in the Agronomy Department at Purdue University. Savannah’s graduate research involves mapping loci controlling root traits in the wheat seedling. After publishing her GWAS results in the Journal of Functional and Integrative Genomics, Savannah is pursuing one of the candidate genes (a domain of unknown function gene) by functional genomics studies.



Robert in wet labRobert Z Shrote, Undergraduate Researcher 

Robert Shrote is a senior in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. Robert has been involved in our research program for nearly two years in a variety of capacities. He 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. In addition to this little protein, Robert is studying the function of two other genes i.e., a pentatricopeptide and a NAC domain-containing protein in plant growth and development. Robert is majoring in Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Biotechnology and minoring in Statistics and Biochemistry and his research interests include using high-throughput sequencing, molecular markers, and computer systems to identify trait loci and solve breeding problems.


clayton honor contract


Clayton Hicks, AGRY 320 Genetics Honor Contract 

Clayton is a freshman in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University, honor contracting AGRY 320 in fall 2018. He will be looking at the prospects of CRISPR to edit the genome of wheat, as a polyploid organism. Clayton’s research interests lean towards cancer research. 







batool picture


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 variation in nitrogen availability. 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. She also has experience in 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.



Seth crossing wheat

Seth Tolley, Graduate Student

Seth is a graduate student in the Department of Agronomy. He received his undergraduate degree from the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Seth’s research aims at characterizing root traits at seedling and adult plant stages in a diverse set of wheat germplasm. He also investigates patterns of root growth over the growth period of the plants. Besides his research responsibilities, Seth is one of the two teaching assistants for AGRY 320 “Undergraduate Genetics” for fall 2018. 






Kileen Moore pictureKileen Moore, AGRY 320 Genetics Honor Contract

My name is Kileen Moore and I am currently a Junior at Purdue pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences. I am originally from Traverse City, Michigan and I am working with Dr. Mohammadi to research how enhancer sequences in DNA affect gene expression. While at Purdue, I am also involved in Boiler Gold Rush as a Team Leader; Purdue Timmy Global Health, an organization that performs humanitarian work in both local communities and around the world; and I am Vice President of Purdue Lambda Tau, an organization dedicated to Medical Laboratory Science students. After I graduate from Purdue, I hope to work as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in a hospital lab as a “generalist” for a year before entering a graduate program so that I can specialize in Microbiology.




Portrait of Rupesh GairRupesh Gaire, Graduate Student

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 to implement and advance genome-wide predictive approaches for grain yield and Fusarium head blight resistance. Rupesh is in charge of developing phenotypic and genotypic data for the Purdue Panel (a set of 400 soft red winter wheat lives developed at Purdue since 1980s). 





                          Former lab members                           

Dr. Prabin Bajgain. Now a post-doctoral associate at the University of Minnesota. 

Dr. Mina Rostamza. Now a post-doctoral associate with Dr. Gordon McNickle and Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi at Purdue University. 

Christian Webb. Now a graduate student at Kansas State University.


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