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Adam Bray, a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, has been named the 2017 William H. Danforth Plant Science Scholar. He is the third graduate student to receive the designation which supports outstanding Ph.D. students whose research demonstrates great promise for advancing plant science. The fellowship was endowed in honor of Dr. Danforth by Dr. P Roy and Diana Vagelos, longtime leaders in philanthropic giving for scientific medical research and education.
Bray’s passion for plant science began while growing up in central Georgia on a Christmas tree farm. He developed his interest in novel techniques for plant phenotyping at the University of Georgia, which led him to the lab of Christopher Topp, Ph.D. at the Danforth Center and enrollment in the Ph.D. program through the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri (MU). His dissertation research focuses on dissecting the genetic components that dictate root system architecture in maize (Zea mays).
“Adam strikes an exceptional balance of intellectualism and real-world pragmatism in his pursuit of plant-science based solutions to big problems,” said Topp. “I think he understands the needs of the farmer just as well as the need for basic research into the fundamental laws that govern plant health and productivity. To top it off, he has a knack for communicating his work with the public - it’s hard to overstate how important this trait is to the advancement of all science.”
The Topp lab utilizes a wide array of cutting-edge root phenotyping methods to characterize root system architecture (RSA) across diverse varieties of maize. Bray’s project leverages the genetic resources and breeding expertise of Sherry Flint-Garcia, Ph.D. at MU, along with the phenotyping expertise in the Topp lab. Specifically, Bray is screening maize lines adapted to drought prone regions of the world to explore RSA response to drought and identify genes responsible for drought tolerance.
“I want to develop an understanding of key genetic components of maize RSA in water scarce environments,” said Bray. “This work will not only provide key knowledge on the genetics responsible for root architecture but will also be at the forefront of advancing plant phenotyping tools.”
| William H. DanforthRootsPlant sciencemaizeChristopher ToppAdam Bray