Features

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Getu Beyene Duguma, PH. D.

Cassava Pipeline Research Manager
Institute for International Crop Improvement
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
975 N. Warson Road
St. Louis, MO 63132, U.S.A.
Tel: 314-587-1486
Fax: 314-587-1586
gduguma@danforthcenter.org


Getu has been with the Danforth Center since January 2012. As the Cassava Pipeline Research Manager, his responsibilities include managing molecular and trait characterization of transgenic lines for the VIRCA and BioCassava Plus projects and supervising production and quality control of genetic constructs in both cassava projects. He also supervises the technical staff performing plant analysis in the IICI Trait Improvement Laboratory and provides mentoring and technical support to visiting scholars. Before joining the Danforth Center, Getu worked at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa as a postdoctoral fellow on the African Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project, hosted by Pioneer Hi-Bred/DuPont, and at Texas AgriLife Research (part of Texas A&M University Systems), where he worked on the development of abiotic stress tolerant Saccharum spp. Getu obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Plant Sciences from Alemaya University, Ethiopia, where he served as a lecturer. He earned his Ph.D. at the Forestry Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) of the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Narayanan Narayanan, PH.D.

Research Manager
Institute for International Crop Improvement
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
975 N. Warson Road
St. Louis, MO 63132, U.S.A.
Tel: 314-587-1254
Fax: 314-587-1354
nnarayanan@danforthcenter.org


Narayanan Narayanan joined the Institute for International Crop Improvement (IICI) at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as Research Manager in January 2014. In this role, Narayanan is primarily responsible for managing molecular and trait characterization of transgenic lines for the BioCassava Plus and VIRCA projects. He is also responsible for managing a team of technicians who focus on the production of gene expression constructs and the molecular analysis of transgenic plants. Narayanan has more than 12 years of experience in plant biotechnology working in both academia and industry. Most recently, he worked as a Lead Senior Scientist at Phycal, Inc., where he was responsible for trait characterization of cassava and for maintaining cassava germplasm. Prior to his employment at Phycal, he was a Research Scientist at the Danforth Center working with the BioCassava Plus project to improve iron and zinc levels and reduce cyanide levels in cassava. Narayanan did post-doctoral training at USDA/ARS, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, working on nutritional genomics in rice and musk melon to understand the whole-plant physiology. Prior to that, he held a post doctorate position at Iowa State University in Ames, where his work focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that determine the recognition and signal transduction events in the soybean-Phytophthora sojae (Root rot pathogen) interaction. Narayanan has B.S, M.S, and M.Phil. in Plant Sciences from University of Madras, India. Narayanan earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology, obtaining a Rockefeller Fellowship specializing in rice tissue culture and disease resistance from the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines and the University of Madras, India.

Deepika Chauhan, PH.D.

Research Manager
Institute for International Crop Improvement
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
975 N. Warson Road
St. Louis, MO 63132, U.S.A.
Tel: 314-587-1256
Fax: 314-587-1356
rchauhan@danforthcenter.org


Deepika Chauhan is a plant biotechnologist with specialization in tissue culture and genetic transformation of plant species, namely: cassava, Eucalyptus, Populus, Punica, Robinia and Terminilia. Her interest lies in developing cutting edge tools for improvement of economically important, as well as endangered, plant species. She earned her B.Sc. in Basic Sciences (2003) from St. Bedes College, Shimla, India and her M.Sc. (2005) and Ph.D. (2009, gold medalist) from the University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, India. Following her Ph.D., she was awarded a University of Pretoria Postdoctoral Fellowship for International Students. She joined the Forest Molecular Genetics Programme at FABI, University of Pretoria, South Africa for her postdoc from 2009 to 2011. Her postdoctoral research focused on the development of a tissue culture and transformation protocol for commercially grown Eucalyptus tree species and the functional genetic analysis of transcription factors related to cellulose biosynthesis in secondary cell walls of wood fiber in Eucalyptus and Populus genotypes. During her time at the University of Pretoria, she mentored undergraduate students in the Department of Genetics and trained graduate students on eucalypts/poplar plant tissue culture and transformation techniques.

Deepika joined the Danforth Center in October 2011 and has been working on improving the cassava transformation system and understanding the critical factors essential for genetic modification of farmer preferred cassava cultivars. She currently manages the cassava tissue culture and transformation activities for VIRCA, BioCassava Plus and HT Cassava and supervises the technical and research staff working on these projects.

National Root Crops Research Institute

Kahya Shuaibu

Laboratory Manager/Research Assistant
National Root Crops Research Institute
Umudike, Nigeria





Kahya is a Laboratory Manager /Research Assistant at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike. Nigeria. He obtained his Higher National Diploma in Microbiology/Virology in 1997 from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Nigeria and a Post Graduate Diploma in Crop Production and Protection in 2008 from Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria.

Kahya started his career as a laboratory technologist in a medical laboratory in Nigeria, where he worked for seven years. He later joined NRCRI and worked on markers, assisted with breeding in cassava and oversaw the activities of molecular biology laboratory. His training and experience covers a wide range of state-of-the-art molecular biology and tissue culture techniques learned at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia.

Kahya trained the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center from January 2009 - September, 2010, where he acquired experience in molecular biology and cassava transformation under the BioCassava Plus project. While at the Danforth Center, he carried out research on zinc biofortifcation of cassava storage roots. Kahya returned to the Danforth Center from July, 2011 to April 2012 and conducted a study on vector backbone integration in transgenic cassava to enhance molecular quality control of transgenes in order to meet the demand of regulatory authorities for possible transgenic crop release. His vision is to apply molecular biology and genomics for crop improvement.

Kahya is presently pursuing a M.Sc. degree in Crop Production and Protection at Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria.


Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization

JOHN N. NDUNG’U

Head of Cereal Chemistry and Food Quality Department
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization
Njoro, Kenya






John is a plant biochemist and molecular biologist holding a M.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Egerton University, Kenya. Currently, John serves as the Head of the Cereal Chemistry and Food Quality Department at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (KALRO) in Njoro, a position he has held since 2004.

Additionally, John has profiled nutritional and end use quality parameters for all cassava germplasm grown in Kenya. He has used mutation breeding to improve the nutritional status of cassava and banana crops for consumption in Kenya for acceptable zinc, iron and vitamin A contents. He has also participated in the sweet potato breeding program, where five sweet potato varieties have been released with high beta carotene levels and acceptable dry matter. From 2005 to 2007, John served as the Head of the Biotechnology Department at KALRO, Njoro, in this role his focus was on marker assisted selection and mutation for plant breeding of different crops, including wheat, cassava, sweet potato and banana varieties. This effort was funded by the stem rust projects, AGRA and IAEA funds. John has wide experience in virus diagnostics using a molecular approach on vegetatively propagated crops. Currently he participates as a biochemist in the BioCassava Plus, analyzing transformed cassava grown at the Kenya CFT sites for beta carotene content, mineral levels for zinc and iron, and dry matter content.