We work to address three questions:
How does genetic variation give rise to phenotypic variation?
How can we use genetics to make agriculture more efficient and share those efficiencies globally?
How can we reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment?
While we work to address these areas, our most important function is to train the next generation of scientific leaders. Nearly 100 postdocs, graduate students, visiting scientists, and undergraduates have trained with our group, and are now leading labs in industry, academia, NGOs, and government.
We do most of our research with maize, as it is now the world's largest production crop and it has perhaps the most fascinating and powerful genetics of any crop. Because of this, maize has lots of leverage.
Our research has also been applied to hundreds of other species - everything from human genetics, nearly every crop, and many species of ecological interest. Our tools and approaches have been applied to over 500 species.
Agriculture faces tremendous challenges and opportunities today. Global agriculture must figure out how to increase production by 50% on less land with higher temperatures and more variable rainfall over the next 40 years. At the same time, we have never had a greater tools to meet the challenge. Our group focuses on using the tools of genetics, but realize that the global solution involves combining genetics with agronomy, markets, and many social challenges.
The next two decades will see the potential to apply quantitative genetics and genomics to address climate change and carbon sequestration. Please contact us if you are interested in charting out this new research effort.