The Crop Science Newsletter
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Graduate Student Spotlight
My name is Justin Ma. I am working on a PhD in the Plant Breeding and Genetics program under the advisement of Dr Ramsey Lewis, a tobacco breeder. I received a BSc in Biology from Queen’s, Kingston. I received a M.S. degree in plant breeding from the University of Illinois and a M.S. in analytics from NC State. I have a diverse set of projects, although they all involve disease resistance in some way. That wasn't the original plan! Such is research. 1. Identifying and characterizing novel sources of black shank (Phytophthora nicotianae) resistance using genetic tools. This involves developing genetic markers for marker assisted selection by fine-mapping quantitative trait loci. 2. Identifying the gene involved in hybrid lethality observed in the Nicotiana tabacum x N. africana double haploid system. This phenomenon appears to be the result of triggering the hypersensitive response pathways, usually reserved for pathogen defense. It is analogous to an autoimmune disorder in animals. 3. Characterizing the genetic causes of variation from anther-derived double haploids (ADHs). ADHs in the past were observed to have novel black shank resistance and increased nuclear DNA content. Unfortunately, this project hasn't panned out as expected, and we haven't seen either of these changes. Nevertheless, it has provided a good learning opportunity to work with tissue culture, double haploids, flow cytometry, and learn about new research into transposons, epigenetics, and genomics.
I have been fortunate to have received extensive support from industry sources throughout my time in graduate school, especially through Monsanto's fellowship programs. Through their programs, I made contacts with NC State students and faculty while still at the University of Illinois. I quickly learned of NC State's reputation in their plant breeding, genetics, and statistics programs. Our program has a good balance of field, lab, and statistics work. NC State's strengths have complimented my education at the University of Illinois. I am currently applying for plant breeding positions within the seed industry, but I'm always open to something different on the longer horizon. I row out at Lake Wheeler in my spare time. We are starting our Learn to Row sessions soon for those who are interested!
learn more about graduate programs
Hands-on experiences for students and a new major to attract more of them into agriculture are among benefits of Michelle Schroeder-Moreno’s agroecology program.
Turfgrass short course set
NC State University will hold its annual one-week Turfgrass Short Course.