Current Lab Personnel

Brian Steffenson

Brian Steffenson - Professor  
 Matthew Haas

Matthew Haas - Graduate Research Assistant M.S degree: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, 2011-present B.S degree: Biology, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2005-2009 I first joined Dr. Steffenson’s lab in 2011 as a M.S. student after spending a year as a junior scientist in Dr. Corby Kistler’s lab studying Fusarium graminearum. My research focus is high-resolution mapping of a durable spot blotch resistance locus in barley. Spot blotch is a devastating foliar disease of wheat and barley, especially in the Upper Midwest and adjacent provinces of Canada. It is caused by Cochliobolus sativus (anamorph: Bipolaris sorokiniana). I will be attempting to find additional resistance in NDB-112 that was not transferred to derived cultivars and use currently known QTL to map them more precisely. Hobbies: bicycling, working out, cooking, and more recently, home-brewing
Bullo Mamo

Bullo Mamo - Graduate Research Assistant Ph.D. Degree: Plant Pathology, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, 2009-to date M.Sc. Degree: Plant Biotechnology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands, 2005-2007 B.Sc. Degree: Plant Sciences, Alemaya University, Ethiopia, 1998-2002 I joined Steffenson’s lab in 2009 as a Ph.D. student to assist with identifying and mapping wheat stem rust (Ug99) resistance in barley. Ug99 is a new variant of wheat stem rust first discovered in Uganda in 1998, and is an emerging threat to wheat and barley production worldwide. A focus of my research is to identify, map, and characterize resistance genes against Ug99 in landrace and wild barley accessions. I am also working towards characterizing the genetic diversity and population structure of a diverse collection of Ethiopian barley landrace germplasm and utilizing genome-wide association scans to develop marker-trait associations for resistance to multiple barley diseases and agronomic traits in this germplasm. Hobbies:, travel, reading, bicycling
Jeness Scott

Jeness Scott - Post-doctoral Research Associate Ph.D. degree in Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis- 2008 B.S. degree in Biology at Iowa State University- 1998 Throughout my scientific endeavors as a plant pathologist I have become particularly interested in research to improve the management of plant diseases particularly with respect to increasing host resistance. I joined the Steffenson Lab in October of 2011 to characterize the genetics of disease resistance present within the barley germplasm. Specifically I am evaluating the disease reaction of domesticated and wild barley to stem rust (causal agent = Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici). Using a combination of molecular markers, association mapping, and other genotyping tools; we hope to identify novel sources of resistance that can be moved into barley cultivars adapted to life in Minnesota. Hobbies: gardening, hiking, camping, quilting, biking, reading, beer tasting, fishing, & riding the bus
Dachi Jguniashvili

Dachi Jguniashvili- Junior Scientist M.S degree: Technical University of Georgia, of the Faculty of Power Engineering and Telecommunication 2009- B.S degree: Technical University of Georgia, of the Faculty of  Power Engineering and Telecommunication 2005-2009 In 2011, the MAST program gave me the opportunity to come the USA and receive further education and some work experience. At first I worked for Linder’s greenhouses for six months, where I learned a  lot of things about modern greenhouses, taking care of plants, and selecting those for sale. Then, I studied at the University of Minnesota for Fall semester. In September, I joined the Steffenson project where I have been assisting lab members in doing experiments and developing barley backcross populations with winter hardiness. I am very happy to have a role in this great project. Hobbies: riding horse, skiing, climbing mountains, playing billiards.
Jon Menke

Jon Menke- Post-doctoral Research Associate Ph.D. Degree: Plant Pathology, 2011, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis B.S Degree: Microbiology, 1997, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis My work in the Steffenson Lab is focused on the genetic mapping of quantitative trait loci for resistance to Fusarium head blight (FHB) in wild barley. The projecting I’m working on entails the analysis of an advanced backcross derived population of barley that resulted from an intial crossing of a high quality malting barley with a wild barley accession collected in Israel. My primary role in this project is to generate a genetic map based on this population using SNP data obtained from a high-throughput genotyping assay. This map and existing phenotypic data obtained from this population will be used to identify loci associated with FHB resistance that may be present in the wild accession. This work will provide information about the potential utility of wild germplasm for the improvement of barley disease resistance to FHB.
Jamie Kaufman

Jamie Kaufman- Junior Scientist B.S. Degree: Biology, 2010, Augsburg College, Minneapolis I joined the Steffenson lab in the fall of 2011 with the objectives of identifying stem rust resistance genes from Aegilops species, wild relatives of wheat, and incorporating those genes into wheat breeding lines. For this project I work closely with the Two Blades Group of the Sainsbury Laboratory in the United Kingdom. Prior to working in the Steffenson lab, I worked at the Cereal Disease Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Les Szabo where I received training in the molecular genetics of Puccinia graminis, the causative agent of wheat stem rust.
Matthew Martin

Matthew Martin - Junior Scientist B.A. Degree: Biology, 2012, Gustavus Adolphus College I was lucky to join the Steffenson project in early June 2012 a week after finishing my undergraduate degree. Since my start in Brian’s lab I have been trained to help lead and coordinate the various disease research projects with the rest of my colleagues. My job duties include interdepartmental communication, record and inventory keeping, managing undergraduate and MAST students, and prioritizing tasks for the lab. Before coming to the University, I helped run the greenhouse at Gustavus Adolphus College for 4 years and recently completed an NSF REU in plant pathology at UC Riverside under the direction of Wenbo Ma.
Austin Case

Austin Case - Graduate Research Assistant M.S. degree Department of Crop and Soil Science, Washington State University, 2012 B.S. degree Department of Soil and Crop Science, Colorado State University, 2010 My research will focus on searching wild barley as well as cultivated barley for novel traits. The main thrust of this project will be to identify novel genes conferring resistance to highly virulent races of African stem rust (Ug99). Ug99 poses a large threat to wheat and barley production worldwide and currently only a few genes have been identified that provide protection against Ug99 in barley. A second area of focus for this project will be to investigate low temperature tolerance in wild barley. In multi-year testing wild barley has been able to survive the Minnesota winter. Novel low temperature tolerance related genes processed by wild barley could be used to improve barley low temperature tolerance and create stable winter barley cultivars for the Upper Midwest.