June 28, 2017

2014 University of Minnesota Plant Breeding Symposium



Breeding Today for Tomorrow’s Challenges is the seventh annual University of Minnesota Plant Breeding Symposium. This year’s speakers range across disciplines with a united focus of advancing modern agriculture, technology, and breeding resources.

Speaker Bios

Student Abstracts

Student Speakers:



Haley Sater


All Student Presentations

Liana Nice

Bryan Runck

Program Schedule

8:30-8:45 Welcome
8:45-9:00 Student Intro
9:00-9:45 Amy Lezzoni
“RosBREED: Bridging the Chasm Between Genomics Knowledge and Breeding Application”
9:45-10:15 Break
10:15-10:45 Poster Session
10:45-11:30 Chris Richards
“The Genomics of Genebanks”
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30-12:45 Borlaug 100: Food Security for the Next Century

Mary Buschette

12:45-1:30 Dan Voytas
“Precise Engineering of Plant Genomes”
1:30-2:15 Bill Dolezal
“Past Challenges, Current and Future Opportunities for Seed Industry Plant Pathologists”
2:15-2:45 Break
2:45-3:30 Breakout Sessions:
Proactive Pathology
Maintaining Quality
Data to Decisions
3:30-4:30 Major Goodman
“Markers, Exotic Germplasm, and Traditional Breeding: An Ongoing Saga”
4:30 Closing Remarks 




Thanks to generous sponsorship from DuPont Pioneer, the graduate students of the Applied Plant Sciences graduate program have put on a plant breeding symposium each spring since 2008.

Also thanks to Daniel Liutama for designing this year’s logo.


Student Organization Committee:


Amy Jacobson, co-chair


Research Assistant to Rex Bernardo in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Email: jaco0795@umn.edu

Amy Jacobson is a third year PhD student in applied plant sciences.  She is interested in integrating quantitative genetics into plant breeding programs.  Her research focuses on utilizing genomewide selection in a maize breeding program.  Her current research projects include marker imputation and improving training population design for genomewide selection.


Justin Anderson, co-chair


Research Assistant to Robert Stupar in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Email: ande9112@umn.edu LinkedIn: ande9112@umn.edu

Justin grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Southern Minnesota and is now a third year PhD student in applied plant sciences.  He is interested in natural and induced changes in the soybean genome.  His research focuses on documenting these changes in elite cultivars and determining how they formed, what they do, and how they play a role in ongoing genome evolution.


Hannah Swegarden

Research Assistant in Horticulture

Email: swega001@umn.edu

Hannah’s responsibilities are currently split between pursuance of a Master of Science in Applied Plant Science and a graduate research assistantship. The combination of these two responsibilities has provided her with an opportunity to explore horticultural specialties that encourage a creative, personal connection to the field.

Though new to the agricultural scene, she is very interested in exploring new crops that may accent Minnesota’s agriculture.  Hannah’s current research involves estimating the degree of variation in heirloom dry beans. Unlike commercial dry bean varieties, heirloom beans have no distinct pedigree and, at best, can be traced back only a few generations. Her work with heirlooms is an opportunity to uncover what sort of diversity exists within these lines and how much may be applicable to future breeding efforts.


Yong Bao

Research Assistant to Drs. James Orf and Nevin Young in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Email: baoy@umn.edu

Yong is a third year PhD student in applied plant sciences. He is interested in improving the selection efficiency of superior soybean lines by implementing GS in the University soybean breeding program. Specifically, design and implement genomic predictive models utilizing large set of breeding data to predict agronomic traits and select promising lines; identify novel molecular markers through association genetics analysis to assist the selection of disease resistances; develop a relational database for soybean breeders to track, manipulate and implement breeding data.


Austin Dobbels

Research Assistant to Seth Naeve and Robert Stupar in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Email: dobbe045@umn.edu

Austin grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Central Illinois and is now a first year Master of Science student in Applied Plant Sciences.  He is interested in studying soybeans for agronomic and seed composition traits.  His research focuses on continuing genotypic screening of a fast-neutron population created at the U of M for elevated seed protein, oil, and sucrose concentrations.

 Kayla (Medium)

Kayla Altendorf

Research assistant to Dr. Jim Anderson and Dr. Donald Wyse.
Kayla grew up in the Twin Cities and traces her liking to agriculture back to the time she spent on her grandparents’ farm as a child. Driven by her passion for land stewardship, Kayla went on earn a BA in Environmental Studies from the College of Saint Benedict/St. John’s University. Feeling inspired by the potential for improving the sustainability of agricultural systems, Kayla joined the Forever Green Initiative at the U of M where she is working to breed Field pennycress for use as a cover crop and biofuel feedstock. Kayla is characterizing pennycress germplasm from around the world for important agronomic traits like yield, winter hardiness, oil content, and percent germination. She is also developing inbred and mutagenized pennycress populations for pedigree selection and molecular screening.

Celeste Falcon

Research assistant to Dr. Kevin Smith


Celeste is a 3rd year PhD student in plant breeding/molecular genetics.  Broadly, her research interests are in using marker-based breeding strategies to improve crops in terms of their nutritional quality and adaptation to lower input systems. Currently, one of her projects focuses on identifying chromosomal regions associated with improved nitrogen use efficiency in barley.  Her other project seeks to evaluate how well genomic selection works in terms of gain from selection and maintenance of genetic variation when implemented to initiate a breeding program for winter barley.  Looking forward, Celeste hopes to pursue these types of research questions as a professor in plant breeding.



Tyler Tiede

Research Assistant to Kevin Smith in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Email: tied0068@umn.edu

Tyler Tiede is a third year PhD student in applied plant sciences.  His research involves implementing and evaluating genome-based progeny and parental selection strategies using a traditional, cultivated barley population and a wild relative derived population.


Kathryn Turner

Research Assistant to Jim Anderson in Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Kathryn Turner is pursuing a PhD in Applied Plant Sciences.  She is interested in developing crops for long term productivity, resource conservation, and nutrition. Her work focuses on improving wheat for resistance to diseases and evaluating perennial grain crops.  Her PhD project will identify durable leaf rust resistance genes in Minnesota varieties and international wheat lines. Through her Master’s work on perennial wheat, she characterized resistance to races of the Ug’99 stem rust pathogen and Fusarium head blight. She continues to evaluate the winter survival of perennial wheat lines in Minnesota.


Not pictured:

Emily Conley, Alex Ollhoff, and Prabin Bajgain