PS Webinar Series: Can We Breed Crops For Unobserved Future Environments?

Research interests - Dr. James Schnable's research group at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln works on developing new methods to combine information from corn, sorghum, and related orphan crops and wild species to identify genetic changes that alter crop traits important to farmers and food traits important to consumers. Working closely with computer scientists, statisticians, engineers, and applied plant breeders his research group develops new quantitative genetic and high throughput phenotyping techniques to analyze novel types of data, including high throughput RGB and hyperspectral imagery collected from plants on a daily basis and parallel genome wide association studies in corn, sorghum and foxtail millet. As part of the Nebraska Food for Health Center, he is working to identify genes in corn and sorghum that alter the biochemical composition of these foods and produce different perturbations of the human gut microbiome when consumed. Research in the Schnable lab is currently supported by NSF, the USDA, DOE, the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and private industry. He has founded two startups – Data2Bio and Dryland Genetics – the latter focused on bringing the rapid gains in yield potential produced by modern crop breeding methods to water use efficient orphan crops.

Biography - James Schnable is an Associate Professor and the Gardner Professor of Maize Quantitative Genetics at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. His research is supported by the USDA, NSF, ARPA-E, the Department of Energy, and the Nebraska Corn Growers. He and his team of students, postdocs, and staff scientists harness new technologies from engineering and computer sciences and integrate them to address challenges in crop genetics and breeding. In addition to his work at the University of Nebraska, Schnable is a founding partner in three successful startups in the fields of genomics, digital agriculture, and agricultural resilience and sustainability. He has received the Marcus Rhoades early career award for maize genetics in 2018, the North American Plant Phenotyping Network Early Career award, and the American Society of Plant Biologists Early Career Award in 2019. He received his BA from Cornell University in 2018 and his Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley in 2020.

Note - For those interested in speaking with James, there will be the opportunity to speak with him 1-on-1 post-seminar (for between 15-30 mins depending on level of interest). Please email Diep Ganguly ( and Annamaria De Rosa ( by COB 17th November 2021.