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Last update: May 2021

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Ellie Taagen

Ellie Taagen
Ellie Taagen was awarded the IWGSC and Catherine Feuillet Early Career Award and will receive her award at the Plant & Animal Genome Conference XXIX (PAG) in San Diego, California (USA) in January 2022. Ellie also received a travel stipend to allowed her to travel to the PAG conference to present a talk during the IWGSC main workshop on Saturday 8 January 2022.

Ellie is a PhD candidate studying with Dr Mark Sorrells’ Small Grains Breeding and Genetics laboratory at Cornell University (USA). Motivated by the importance of enhancing wheat productivity, Ellie applies her quantitative genetics, data science, and molecular biology skillset to uncovering the mechanisms driving desirable phenotypes. Ellie anticipates graduating in spring 2022.

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Ellie Taagen and Catherine Feuillet at PAG 2023

A few words about your work

My research is broadly focused on the biological constraints of meiotic recombination in a plant breeding context and aims to improve causal variant and prediction-based breeding decisions. Specifically, my dissertation is focused on detection of genomic structural variation in wheat for a more robust approach to identifying positional cloning targets, as well as the potential to modify recombination to enhance genetic gain.

Why did you apply for the IWGSC Early Career Award?

I rely on the IWGSC resources extensively in my research. I wanted to share with the wheat community how an annotated reference genome facilitated structural variant detection, and new considerations for polyploid positional cloning experimental design. Thank you IWGSC!

In what way do you think being recipient of the IWGSC Early Career Award could help you in your career?

I remember attending PAG the first semester of my graduate school journey and I was in awe of the folks giving IWGSC workshop talks. I'm humbled to now be one of them! This award nomination attests to the importance of mentorship and sponsorship, and the role it plays in retaining early career scientists. The IWGSC recognition and travel stipend is a terrific opportunity to meet a global network of talented researchers and initiate high impact collaborations.

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What are your career/future plans?

In 2021 I participated in a six-month internship with Bayer Crop Science, and I would love to continue working with industry at the intersection of genetics, data science, and molecular biology. Wheat improvement is a lifelong career interest of mine and I am excited to pursue industry and public sector collaborations that provide opportunities for graduate students to experience industry and expand their professional network early in their career.

More information

Ellie’s presentation at PAG took place during the IWGSC workshop on Saturday 8 January 2022 (8:00am to 10:10am)

Her talk is entitled “Challenges and opportunities in positional cloning and structural variation in polyploid crops”


On 18 November 2021, Ellie presented a webinar entitled "Challenges and opportunities in positional cloning and structural variation in polyploid crops"