Ph. D VU University Amsterdam 2016
MSc Utrecht University 2011
With global population levels rising and changing environments due to climate change producing enough food to feed everybody is a growing challenge. One of the ways to meet this challenge is to breed sturdier crops that can tolerate environmental stress better than current high yielding crop varieties allowing for better use of poor agricultural land. My research interest in this topic is to understand better how plant traits can confer stress tolerance in crops and how these are controlled in the genome. As a postdoc at UGA, together with Prof Lisa Donovan and Prof John Burke, I'm heavily involved in a large NSF funded project assessing the genomic and physiological basis of environmental stress resistance in cultivated sunflower, an important oilseed crop.
In this project we are currently carrying out an extensive drought tolerance screening of 289 sunflower genotypes in the Imperial Valley, CA, growing plants up to maturation and harvest and monitoring performance and traits via traditional (high effort) and high throughput sensor based measurements. At UGA we’re screening the same genotypes for salt and low nutrient stress in large scale greenhouse studies. These experiments will give us candidate genotypes with high stress tolerance and inform us which plant traits are associated with that. Detailed studies on select genotypes will then delve into the genes and mechanisms behind those traits and how exactly they allow for high performance under poor conditions.