Arcadio Valdes Franco 

Graduate Student

Contact Information:

Cornell University

175 Biotechnology Building

Ithaca, NY 14853



Arcadio is a graduate student in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell that likes genomes. By using genes, genomes and their genetics, he’s working on figuring out how maize landraces are adapted to diverse environmental conditions, with the aim to identify useful alleles that could be used to improve the agriculture of plants.

Why I am becoming a scientist


Life, uh, finds a way” - Jeff Goldblum as Dr Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park.


Early in my life I saw this movie titled Jurassic Park, and just loved it. Back then it was mostly the dinosaurs, but when choosing my undergrad I realized: the science fiction of genome analysis and manipulation is now an actual working technology (minus the dino-DNA that sadly has decayed). We can now actually study and hope to understand what makes every organism work.

Fast-forward to today and I’ve got a bachelor in genomics biotechnology and a master of research in bioinformatics, having worked at my home University in Monterrey, and more recently at the USDA in California. Along the way I collaborated on a desert fish population phylogeny work, analyzed brewer’s yeast gene expression, worked with SNPs from breast cancer samples, and more recently assembled a bacterial and a plant genome. If it all seems disparate, it is, but it is not. It all has DNA/RNA, and it all can be analyzed with a computer and the right knowledge (and plants, and their genomes, are ridiculously cool in how complex they can be).

With this information, while life (or nature) finds a way, it is the duty (and joy) of a scientist, to get in there and understand it. And in my specific case on improving maize crops, besides it being really interesting in a scientific sense itself, with the projected climatic conditions and population growth, it seems like a sound idea.

Panzea was funded by the National Science Foundation, Plant Genome Research Project, award #1238014: “The Biology of Rare Alleles in Maize and Its Wild Relatives”; the research groups on this project were also supported by the USDA-ARS, their home institutions, and/or various other sources of funding.