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Genomics Research at WSU

The genomics program has a good balance of basic and applied research. Most research projects under this program are focused on understanding molecular mechanisms controlling various plant processes, both using model systems as well as crop plants. Studying traits of agronomic importance is a focus of each research program and all research programs have an ultimate goal of translating basic information and technology to crop improvement. Developing crop varieties using modern as well as conventional methods, information and technology is an important goal of this program.



Bob Brueggeman

Robert Brueggeman

The focus of my breeding program as the Robert A. Nilan Endowed Chair in Barley Research and Education is the development of malt, food, and feed varieties with high quality and yield that are widely adapted to diverse regions of Washington State. My basic research projects utilize molecular genetics, genomics and functional analysis tools to explore the mechanisms underlying biotic and abiotic stress resistances in barley. The genes and signaling pathways my team characterize are important to production in the dryland growing regions of the inland northwest. The knowledge and molecular tools developed can be translated to the field through targeted breeding efforts aided by genetic marker-based and genomic selection strategies.


Arron Carter

As the Orville A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Winter Wheat Breeding and Genetics, my program is focused on developing high-yielding, high-quality wheat cultivars with resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress, thereby mitigating grower risk and increasing sustainability of wheat production in Washington. My research focuses on genetic mapping of disease resistance, wheat end-use quality, and utilization of phenomics and high-throughput phenotyping to select for stress tolerance.


Kulvinder Gill in front of a brick wall

Kulvinder Gill

Kulvinder Gill’s research program mainly focuses on three projects: 1. Understanding chromosome pairing control in polyploids and its utility in crop improvement; 2. Improving heat tolerance in wheat; and 3. accomplishing quick, efficient, precise and targeted transfer of agronomically important genes across cultivars and species by developing and using fast breeding methods. Co-funded by USAID and government of India, he is leading a $16.3 million project to develop heat-tolerant wheat for SE Asia. The project has 47 scientists from 12 Indian research institutes and two private companies.


Ted Kisha

Ted Kisha, USDA-ARS

Ted Kisha is the curator of Phaseolus Species of the National Plant Germplasm System of the USDA-ARS. In addition to the acquisition, maintenance, and regeneration of Phaseolus germplasm, his research on characterization includes genetic diversity assesment and nutritional quality of beans.


Michael Neff

Michael Neff

Neff lab research focuses on understanding how seeds and seedlings respond to their external light environment and how these pathways interact with plant hormones such as brassinosteroids and auxins. The Neff lab uses a variety of plants for this research including the model systems Arabidopsis thaliana and Brachypodium distachyon. We use fundamental molecular genetics to understand how these pathways regulate plant growth and development. The Neff lab also uses molecular genetics and genomics to translate this knowledge to cereal crops such as wheat, and oilseed crops such as camelina and canola. The Neff lab also has a breeding program focusing on various turf grasses and the orphan crop teff.


Mike Pumphrey speaking at a Lind Field Day

Michael Pumphrey

As the Orville A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Spring Wheat Breeding and Genetics, my program is focused on the development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerant, high-yielding, and high-quality wheat varieties for diverse Washington production environments. Genetic dissection of disease resistance, grain quality, and abiotic stress tolerance traits are major research areas.


Karen Sanguinet

Karen Sanguinet

My research program focuses on the molecular genetic and genomic cues that govern root development in grasses. We use B. distachyon as a model as well as wheat to study how roots grow in their native and diverse soil environments. In addition, we study how the plant cell well and hormones mediate morphogenesis in the root.


Zhiwu Zhang

Zhiwu Zhang

As the endowment recipient of Washington Grain Commission for distinguished professorship in quantitative genetics, my major focus is to develop innovative, cutting-edge statistical methods and computing tools to advance genomic research toward the sustainable development of food production. I also teach a graduate level course, Statistical Genomics, mainly covering gene mapping through Genome Wide Association Studies and molecular breeding through genomic prediction