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Yang named Purdue director of digital phenomics

Yang Yang, a Dow AgroSciences research scientist specializing in plant sensing technology, has been named director of digital phenomics at Purdue University.

The newly created position will be responsible for managing Purdue’s expanding phenomics research staff and infrastructure as well as developing computational systems and tools that enable researchers to overcome challenges in the emerging field of high-throughput phenotyping. Yang will start at Purdue on Jan. 3, 2018.

“Dr. Yang brings a wealth of practical experience in key areas of phenomics research,” said Karen Plaut, interim dean of the Purdue University College of Agriculture. “We look forward to his contributions as we seek to enhance the capability of this vital new technology across disciplines.”

Mitch Tuinstra, scientific director of the Purdue’s Institute for Plant Sciences, said Yang’s appointment would help Purdue maintain leadership in the development of high-throughput plant phenomics.

“We are excited to have Dr. Yang on the team as we enter this new digital phase of phenomics research,” Tuinstra said.

Phenotyping is the process of using sensing technology to learn how the genetic makeup of a plant adapts and reacts to the environment to produce complex traits such as growth, tolerance and yield.

“To tackle the challenge in global food security, it is crucial for us to extensively leverage phenomics/phenotyping technologies in agricultural research so that we can unleash all the power from the progress we’ve achieved in genomics and other fields,” Yang said. “With the brightest minds in agronomy, biology, engineering and computer sciences in the world, Purdue University is the perfect leader in developing plant phenomics and promoting the application of phenotyping technologies in agricultural research as well as agricultural production practices.”

Yang received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from Huazhong University in Wuhan, China. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University.

He has published numerous studies on plant evaluation, sensing and contained-environment crop production.

Yang previously served at Purdue as a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, where he led the design and construction of a controlled-environment facility and conducted experiments on pharmaceutical corn production.

He joined Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis in 2009 as a senior biologist and later served product characterization leader/associate research scientist, leading the development of a crop and environment monitoring system to better understand crop physiological processes and designing stress-management experiments for in-field high-throughput phenotype screening in agronomic trait development.

Purdue’s phenomics program is housed within the Institute for Plant Sciences, part of Purdue Moves, a series of university initiatives announced by President University President Mitch Daniels in 2013 to broaden the university’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students. 

Yang Yang Yang Yang

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