University of Missouri
How I became a scientist:
I grew up in a really small town in Northeastern Indiana. I didn’t grow up on a farm at all, but I did have relatives that had a farm I loved to visit. I joined the FFA in high school and thought plants were interesting, but that was about it. After high school, I went to Hanover College, a small liberal arts institution in southern IN. I was a pre-med student there, but during my junior year I realized a medical career was probably not going to work for me. I switched to studying plants and have never looked back! Shortly after graduation I moved to Columbia, Missouri to begin graduate school at the University of Missouri.
I am currently working toward my doctorate degree in Sherry Flint-Garcia’s lab with the Zea Synthetic doubled haploids (DH). The Zea Synthetic was created by crossing two other synthetic populations: the NAM Synthetic (created from the NAM founders) and the Teosinte Synthetic (BC1s between B73 and 11 geographically diverse parviglumis accessions). The expected parentage of the Zea Synthetic is 38% B73 (a common maize variety), 2% each NAM Founder (maize lines that the project studies intensively) and 12% teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize. This is a very exciting population to work with because the plants have very interesting phenotypes. Some of them look like the corn most of us know and love, while others look more like their wild ancestor, teosinte, and there are many variations in between. By evaluating the DH lines for several agronomic and fitness traits I will be able to identify which regions of the genome were selected against during DH production. Genotyping-by-sequencing of the DH lines will determine the origin of alleles that may have been purged, whether from a NAM founder or from teosinte. My genotypic and phenotypic data will be combined in an association analysis to determine phenotype and genotype relationships.