+1-302-831-1356 rjw@udel.edu

2015 Maize Breeding Summer Internship

Senior Personnel

Randy Wisser

Associate Professor in Plant and Soil Sciences. Dr. Wisser earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell, followed by a postdoctoral stint at NCSU. His work encompasses crop genetic diversity and translational research for crop improvement, with focal areas of environmental adapation, disease resistance and response to selection.

Teclemariam (Tecle) Weldekidan

Research Scientist. Tecle earned his M.S. at UD in Plant Science. He brings 20 years of experience in maize breeding to the group. Tecle is involved in research projects on the genetics of environmental adaptation, response to artificial selection, and disease resistance. He also helps with training activities including our summer plant genetics and breeding internship program for high school and undergraduate students.

Scott Davis

Research Associate. After a career in the commercial seed sector with DuPont Pioneer, Scott joined the lab under an initiative to expand infrastructure and develop educational resources for genome science at the University of Delaware. He collaborates with Ph.D. student Zhu Zhuo on this initiative and is our resident expert on Oxford Nanopore MinION sequencing.

Philip Saponaro

Postdoc. Working under the DR Maize project, Philip is co-mentored through a collaboration with Dr. Chandra Kambhamettu’s VIMS lab at UD. In collaboration with two Ph.D. students studying computer vision (Abhishek Kolagunda and Wayne Treible), he is advancing methods for segmentation and feature characterization of microscopy image data on plant-pathogen interactions.

Graduate Students

Heather Corn Manching

Ph.D. student in Plant and Soil Sciences. That’s right folks, Corn is her maiden name. Heather works on the Maize ATLAS project. She has optimized GBS for genotyping heterozygous samples and is studying the genomic basis of response to selection of populations adapated in parallel across eight different environments.

Felix Francis

Ph.D. student in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology. A member of the DR Maize team, Felix’s dissertation is focused on characterizing genetic diversity at quantitative resistance loci in maize. His research includes the development of new software such as ThermoAlign and associated bioinformatic pipelines for resequencing studies.

Ningjing Tian

Ph.D. student in Computer and Information Sciences (CIS adviser: Dr. L. Pollock). She is the newest member of the AccreteGB database and software development team. AccreteGB facilitates the activities required for a complete cycle of breeding, from organizing seed stocks for a planting through to harvesting and inventorying new stocks.

Abhishek Kolagunda

Ph.D. student in Computer and Information Sciences (CIS adviser: Dr. C. Kambhamettu). A member of the DR Maize team and student of Computer Vision, Abhishek is developing big data processing pipelines and segmentation and analysis methods for microscopy image data on plant-pathogen interactions.

John Dougherty

M.S. student in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology. A member of the Maize ATLAS team, John is developing a whole genome simulator to tackle fundamental questions about the genomic response to selection and for exploring new classes of experimental designs for genetic studies.

Jolie Wax

M.S. student in Plant and Soil Sciences. Jolie’s career interest is in teaching. She is developing the curriculum and course content for a new Genome Science major at UD.

Isaac Kamweru

Borel Global Fellow M.S. student in Plant and Soil Sciences. Isaac is examining genetic diversity of breeding germplasm in Kenya’s national program (KALRO).

Susan Gachara

Borel Global Fellow M.S. student in Plant and Soil Sciences. Focused on the current MLN pandemic on maize in Africa, Susan is adapting toehold switches for cost effective and field deployable viral diagnostics in plants.

Undergraduate Students

Julia Winkeler

Majoring in Plant and Soil Sciences and minoring in Computer and Information Sciences . Julia is working with GBS data to construct genetic maps and examine segregation patterns in maize populations.

Former Members
Michael Dumas (2014-2017) was a genomics application specialist and lab manager. He worked primarily under the Maize ATLAS and DR Maize projects and later supported work on lima bean. With a superb attention to detail, he developed a number of refined protocols and SOPs that will be referenced for years to come.
Megan Patzoldt (2009-2016) was a genomics lab manager. She was one of the first members of the lab, and over the years she supported multiple projects, established standard operating procedures, and facilitated training for new students.
Juliana Erika de Carvalho Teixeira Yassitepe (2012-2014) was a postdoc on the Maize ATLAS project. Using data from a 9-environment trial, she studied the phenotypic response of a tropical landrace of maize (Tusón) that had been adapted to the U.S. by a decade of selection for early flowering time. Juliana went back to her roots in Brazil as a research scientist with Embrapa.
Ramya Sridharan (2010) worked as a high school student on her senior honors project in our lab. She conducted the initial studies in our lab on quantitative complementation analysis (that N. Adamson followed up on). Ramya is now an undergraduate at UD pursuing an Engineering degree.
Rithika Gogineni (2013-2014) was a Computer Science MS student. She contributed toward the labs database management systems.
Stephen Rhein (2015-2016) was a Ph.D. student in Computer Vision. He was a member of the DR Maize project who had developed the first generation segmentation routine for dissecting fungal infection networks in macroscopic microscopy data.
Kip Rogers (2011-2014) completed his M.S. degree in PLSC performing recurrent selection and studying genetic diversity of founding germplasm of the Maize ATLAS project.
Michael Jackson (Summer ’10, ’11, ’12) was an undergraduate at Columbia University majoring in Physics and Mathematics. During his summers at UD, he pollinated corn, developed high-throughput phenotyping protocols for fungi and worked on quantitative complementation analysis.
Liew (Lyssa) Yee Row (Fall ’10) worked to refine phenotyping pipelines aimed at characterizing fungal variation, but she had a change of heart… now she is off pursuing a degree in psychology. Best of luck Lyssa!
Yaqoob Thurston (Summer ’09) worked as an undergraduate in UD’s inagaural CANR Summer Institute. He conducted a pilot project on vascular variation in maize, an ongoing collaborative study with Professor Tom Pizollato. Yaqoob is now an M.S. student at Delaware State University—his hand drawings of maize vascular bundles actually paid off.
Meredith Biedrzycki (2012-2013) was a postdoc on the DR Maize project. She initiated work on microscopic analysis of plant pathogenesis that has since developed into a semi-automated platform for investigating genetic variation in disease resistance. Meredith is currently teaching in plant science.
Lauren Stewart-Brown (2012) was double majoring in Agriculture & Natural Resource and Food Science. Lauren worked with Juliana on the Maize ATLAS project.
Sucharita (Suchi) Roy (2010-2011) worked on developing high-throughput image analysis pipelines for phenotyping fungal populations and methods for microbial population management. Her work was aimed at laying the groundowrk for studying fungal quantitative genetics.
Andrew Kness (Summer ’10) was a UD undergraduate majoring in Plant Science. Andy worked in the lab assisting Megan Patzoldt in the development of a method for genotyping-by-sequencing in lima bean.
Yogasudha (Sudha) Veturi (2009-2012) was a research assistant turned M.S. student. Sudha’s thesis was on association mapping in recurrently selected populations. She moved on to pursue a Ph.D. in statistical genetics at University of Alabama-Birmingham (current adviser: G. de los Campos).
Luisa Sawyer (2012) was an undergraduate in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology. She assisted on a project to characterize genetic diversity in lima bean.
Nathan Adamson (2010) worked with us as a UD undergraduate and Summer Scholar. He  conducted a proof-of-concept experiment to test the use of complementation analysis for the identification of quantitative trait genes.
Kamedra McNeil (Summer ’10) worked as an undergraduate in UD’s 2nd CANR Summer Institute. Kamedra conducted a literature survey and summarized the current state of knowledge on the genic basis of photoperiodism in plants. She also helped establish a laboratory standard protocol for gDNA extraction. Kamedra is earning her degree in Molecular Biology from Winston-Salem State University.
Sarah Simon (Summer ’09) holds a special place in our lab. She was the first member (undergraduate) to join and establish our genomics lab. She conducted quality control genotyping for maize germplasm. As a high school student she helped pollinate corn with Professor Jim Hawk, which we all agree is what sealed the deal for her acceptance into MIT.