PAG 2020 Speaker Profiles

PAG 2020 Speaker Profiles

The following scientists presented their research during the IWGSC workshop.


Tingting Zhu

Assistant Project Scientist
Department of Plant Sciences
University of California, Davis, USA

Research Interests
I have a broad range of research interests in plant genomics, especially wheat and wild relatives. My research strives to produce, to integrate and ultimately to interpret multi-dimensional data so that to drive biological discoveries.

Current Projects
- Mechanism of structural variations among wheat genomes
- Using optical maps to facilitate plant genomic researches

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January 2020, 8:10 am
Title: Improved reference genome sequence of 'Chinese Spring' wheat yields insights into structural changes of the wheat genome

- The Luo lab


Fei He

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr. Eduard Akhunov's Group
Department of Plant Pathology
Kansas State University, USA

Research Interest
I am interested in understanding the mechanisms driving wheat genome evolution by making use of large-scale omics data based on next-generation sequencing technologies and applying this knowledge to wheat improvement.

Current Projects
Currently, I am mining large-scale genomic and phenotyping datasets to dissect the genomic architecture of the interaction between wheat and stem rust.

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January 2020, 8:30 am
Title: Adaptive introgression from wild emmer into bread wheat revealed by sequencing 1000 wheat exomes

- Department of plant pathology
- Eduard Akhunov lab
- Project website related to this talk


Philomin Juliana

Associate Scientist/Wheat Breeder
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)

Research Interest
Wheat genomics, genomic selection, genome-wide association mapping, genomic fingerprinting, quantitative genetics, high-throughput phenotyping

Current Projects
Working on genomic selection in Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) Project and USAID’s Feed the Future (FTF) Project

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January 2020, 8:50 am
Title: Extending the frontiers of genomics-assisted breeding for grain yield, stress-resilience and quality of bread wheat using the reference sequence

- Large-scale genomics will improve the yield, climate-resilience, and quality of bread wheat, new study shows
- Over 100,000 genes : CIMMYT scientist talks about the new wheat genome map
- Growing Young Scientists to Feed a Hungry World
- Women in Triticum: Philomin Juliana


James Higgins

Associate Professor
Department of Genetics and Genome Biology
University of Leicester

Research Interest
The main focus of the Higgins lab. is to unravel the mechanisms governing meiotic crossover frequency and distribution in crop plants such as bread wheat (Triticum aestivum). This will involve understanding the evolution of meiosis from diploid ancestors through to the modern day tetraploid and hexaploid genomes. We are also investigating meiotic adaptation to whole genome duplication in non-model plant systems such as Arabidopsis lyrata and Mimulus gattutus.

Current Projects
BBSRC Lola ‘Releasing Natural Variation in Bread Wheat By Modulating Meiotic Crossovers’, BBSRC iCASE Investigating the role of the meiotic chromosome axes in mediating crossover designation in bread wheat. EU MSCA ITN MEICOM.

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January 2020, 9:10 am
Title: Releasing Natural Variation in Bread Wheat By Modulating Meiotic Crossovers

- Higgins lab


Harriet Benbow

Postdoctoral research scientist
University College Dublin
School of Biology and Environmental Science
Dublin, Ireland

Recipient of the 2020 IWGSC Early Career Award - Read her interview here

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January, 9:30 am
Title: Serpins: Genome-Wide Characterisation and Expression Analysis of the Serine Protease Inhibitor Family in Triticum aestivum

- UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science
- Harriet Benbow page on UCD website
- LinkedIn page


Nicholas Santantonio

Postdoctoral Associate
Cornell University
School of Integrative Plant Science
Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics

Research Interest
Quantitative genetics and breeding methodology for optimizing genetic gain, increasing crop resiliency, and predicting plant response to stress. Polyploid genetics, genotype by environment interaction, phenotypic stability, genomic prediction/selection, high throughput phenotyping, breeding program optimization.

Current Projects
- Santantonio, N. and Robbins, KR. Leveraging mathematical optimization to drive short-term gains while maintaining long-term genetic variability in a plant breeding program. In preparation. Target Journal: Genetics, November 2019.
- Santantonio, N., Hansen, J. Viands, D., Robbins, KR. Evaluating Approaches to High-throughput phenotyping and genotyping for genomic selection in alfalfa. US Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative Grant, 2019.
- Santantonio, N., Atanda, AS., et al., Robbins, KR. Technology Driven Crop Improvement for Africa and South Asia. In Preparation. Solicited article: Fronteirs in Plant Science, October 2019.

PAG talk
Date: Saturday 11 January 2020, 9:50 am
Title: Homeologous Epistasis in Wheat: The Search for an Immortal Hybrid

- Robbins’ Lab , Cornell University
- Plant Breeding and Genetics Section , Cornell University
- School of Integrative Plant Science , Cornell University

Modification date : 16 August 2023 | Publication date : 16 December 2020 | Redactor : ic