Food and nutritional security is one of the most important challenges that humanity will face in the upcoming decades. The global population will increase to over 9 billion and food demand will grow by more than 50%. To address this challenge, novel advancements to leverage genomic information and expedite the improvement of plant varieties are needed. While genomic information has become inexpensive and readily available, the complementary phenotypes needed to understand the function of plant genomes and make selections in breeding programs have not kept pace. Insufficient progress in phenotype collection, particularly for phenotypes collected from field trials, has been a bottlneck for progress within breeding programs. Dramatic increases in the speed and ability to collect precision phenotypic data are needed to decipher plant genomes and accelerate plant breeding. By focusing on novel tools and algorithms delivered through mobile apps, innovative phenotyping tools can be rapidly deployed through readily available and highly penetrant mobile technology. This approach will enable rapid dissemination and broad usability by plant geneticists and breeders around the globe.
To this end, I have worked on developing and maintaining a suite of mobile apps that are being used to collect data within genetics and breeding programs. These apps have been specifically developed to target distinct areas of the breeding cycle where slow data collection can inhibit its utility. Field Book, the flagship app for this project, was designed to replace the paper field books traditionally used by plant breeders. Inventory has been created to rapidly collate samples and/or collect sample weights. To facilitate sampling, Coordinate was designed to track samples as they are collected for genotyping with additional flexibility depending on functional needs. Additional apps are being designed to meet the needs of breeders and geneticists in an effor to increase the rate of data collection while drastically reducing error rate. Integrating digital data collection into varietal development will be pivotal to ensuring breeding programs are capable of scaling to meet the food security and nutritional demands of the world.
PhD - Kansas State University, Genetics - 2016
Dissertation: ‘Utilizing a historical wheat collection to develop new tools for modern plant breeding'
BS - University of Wyoming, Molecular Biology - 2011