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Sherry Flint-Garcia

Principal Investigator

Contact Information:

301 Curtis Hall

University of Missouri

Columbia, MO 65211


Sherry Flint-Garcia is a Research Geneticist with USDA-ARS and an adjunct faculty member in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri.   Dr. Flint-Garcia has developed germplasm for quantitative trait analysis, including the 302 maize inbred association panel, the nested association mapping (NAM) population, and teosinte NILs derived from crossing ten parviglumis accessions into the B73 background.  She has used these germplasm sets to evaluate various plant, ear, and kernel traits, including kernel composition.   Currently her research focuses on developing germplasm resources from the “Zea Synthetic” to evaluate the potential of diverse maize and teosinte in maize improvement.  

Project Role
My roles in the Rare Alleles project are as follows:

Coordinate field trials for testing  specific Genome Annotations:  make hybrid seed for the tails of the distribution for a given annotation, design the field experiments and prepare the seed for planting at the three locations (MO, NY, and NC), and consolidate and analyze the data.

Lead on the Zea Synthetic inbreeding trials.
1) Mild Inbreeding Depression:  make seed of >900 self and outcross pairs from the Zea Synthetic;  design the field experiments for three locations (MO, NY, and NC), collect agronomic and fitness trait data at the Missouri location, consolidate all p
2) Severe Inbreeding Depression:  make and increase seed of 2000 DH lines from the synthetic, design the field experiments for the three locations (MO, NY, and NC), collect agronomic and fitness trait data at the Missouri location, and consolidate the phenotypic and genotypic data, and analyze the data.  
Oversee the work of a post-doc and a graduate student on these projects.

Why I Became a Scientist:

I grew up on a dairy farm in central Minnesota, surrounded by corn but never paid much attention to it.  When I began college, I was a pre-med major and wanted to be a doctor of some type.  Little did I know I'd someday become a doctor of corn!  

After three years of pre-med courses, I suddenly realized I didn't like working with live lab animals (dissecting out mice thyroids, bleeding rabbits for antibodies, etc.) and that my future medical patients would be alive and probably suffering (sad, crying, bleeding).  I asked my advisor about "Plan B" and he suggested a small project involving corn genetics.  Long story short, I loved it.  

I applied for graduate schools that had plant genetics programs, keeping my mind open to plants other than corn.  I chose to work on corn breeding and genetics at the University of Missouri and fell in love with corn.  Because I had never had a plant-specific course before, I started from the beginning: statistics, entomology, plant pathology, soil science, weed science, plant breeding, plant physiology, plant genetics, and more.  I finished my Ph.D. and did two post-doctoral projects in corn genetics.

I contemplated switching to another crop species when I was searching for a permanent job, but the thought of not working on corn seemed unsuitable to me.  I obtained a permanent position with the USDA Agricultural Research Service working on corn genetics and see myself happily working in maize for the rest of my life!  


B.A. Biology, Saint Mary’s University in Winona, MN, 1996
Ph.D. Genetics Area Program, University of Missouri in Columbia, MO,  2001


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