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MSU Potato Program Team


MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Team

Dr. David Douches
Kelly Zarka
Joseph Coombs
Dr. Daniel Zarka
Dr. Norma Carpintero 
Dr. Swathi Nadakuduti
Chen Zhang
Kate McGlew
 Sylvia Morse
Monica Hufnagel
Andrea Gracia-Ramirez
Greg Steere
Matt Zuehlke
Donna Kells

Felix Enciso-Rodriguez
Maher Alsahlany
Natalie Kirkwyland
Susan Akinyi Otieno
Anna Zarka




Dave D

David Douches Ph.D.

email:  douchesd@msu.edu

The director of the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Program since 1988.

2014 William Beal Outstanding Faculty Award Recipient

2011 Potato Researcher of the Year Award

Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program

Technical Director of US-AID/Feed the Future Biotechnology Partnership - Potato Project 2015-2020

Curriculum Vitae




Kelly Zarka

Kelly Zarka


email: zarka@msu.edu

Molecular Research Technician, Genetic and Protein Analysis Specialist since 1995.

2012 Michigan State University Jack Breslin Distinguished Staff Award Recipient


Current Research Interests:


Technical research scientist for US-AID/Feed the Future Biotechnology Partnership - Potato Project 2015-2020, a humanitarian project for Bangladesh and Indonesia. News release. Project Poster pdf

I am involved in several research projects focused on improving potato varieties with genetic modification.

I have developed several virus eradication methods that we use to certify important potato varieties. They include the use of cryogenics, tissue culture techniques and chemical therapy.

MSU Potato SNP Genotyping Manager

Web Design and Editor for Potato Program

Previously I was the project assistant for SolCAP a USDA funded Coordinated Agricultural Project.  Translating Solanaceae Sequence Diversity and Trait Variation into Applied Outcomes through Integrative Research, Education and Extension.
    

I was also involved in the ABSP US-AID humanitarian project. For more details on this project go to the BT Project Page




Joe Coombs

Joseph Coombs

email: coombs@msu.edu

Potato Variety and
Entomology Research Technician and Computer/Statistics Specialist since 1996.

2010 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Outstanding Staff Award Recipient


Current Research Interests:

Aid in potato variety research and development, involving many aspects of a plant breeding program: field, laboratory, and greenhouse activities.  Specific responsibilities include experimental design and analysis of host plant resistance mechanisms (natural and engineered) of potato for control of Colorado potato beetle (plant transformation, molecular characterization, and biological activity confirmation).  Other duties include statistical analysis, local computer network administrator, Colorado potato beetle rearing management, and much, much more.


Dan

Daniel Zarka Ph.D.

email: zarkadan@msu.edu

Molecular Research Coordinator.
with Program since 2006

Current Research Interests:

My current research is focused on the cloning of a Phytophthora infestans (Late blight) resistance gene originally mapped in this laboratory.  In addition, I am testing different breeding varieties for markers linked to desirable traits such as resistance to the PVY virus, resistance to Golden Nematode and others.
 



Norma

Norma
Carpintero Ph.D.

email: manriqu7@msu.edu

Postdoctoral Research Associate since 2013

Current R
esearch Interests:


My objective focuses on genetics studies by mapping and identification of QTL in different SNPs genotyped diploid segregating populations of potato. The recently sequenced potato genome and the latest genomic tools available for research are providing a great opportunity to identify underling genetic and allelic variation factors associated to trait of interest in this crop.





Swathi

Swathi Nadakuduti Ph.D.


email: nadakudu@msu.edu

Postdoctoral Research Associate since 2015

Current R
esearch Interests:


Currently working on USDA-BRAG project, objectives of which include understanding the variability generated through the conventional Agrobacterium transformation process, and the variability generated through emerging genome-engineering methods such as CRISPR-cas9 and TALENS that enable targeted gene editing. Target and off-target effects on DNA sequence will be evaluated at whole genome level and global gene expression will be evaluated by performing whole transcriptome profiling using next generation sequencing approaches.





Chen Zhang


email: taterzhang@gmail.com

Current R
esearch Interests:


Responsibilities include providing technical support for potato breeding and genetics research, assisting with laboratory analyses, tissue culture maintenance, as well as program data collection and assembly of annual research report. Field duties involve assisting with preparation of seed and plot plans for trials, collection and management of field trial data and collection of field samples.





Kate McGlew

email: mcglewka@msu.edu

Current R
esearch Interests:


Responsibilities include providing technical support for potato breeding and genetics research, assisting with laboratory analyses, tissue culture maintenance, as well as program data collection and assembly of annual research report. Field duties involve assisting with preparation of seed and plot plans for trials, collection and management of field trial data and collection of field samples.



Sylvia Morse

Sylvia Morse

email: morsesyl@msu.edu


Tissue Culture Research Technician since 2016.

Co-Manager of the MSU Potato Program Tissue Culture Bank.

Greg

Greg Steere


email: steereg@msu.edu

Field Research Technician since 2008.
Matt

Matt
Zuehlke

email: zuehlke1@msu.edu

Field Technician
Donna

Donna Kells

email: dhkells@yahoo.com

Field Technician



Felix

Felix Enciso-Rodriguez

email:
encisofe@msu.edu

Ph.D. student since 2014.

2014 Fulbright Scholarship Award winner


Current R
esearch Interests:

Scholarship PhD student from Colombia. I am interested in genome-wide association and genome selection studies fro complex traits in potato such as late blight resistance, specific gravity and maturity.



Monica H


Monica Hufnagel
 

email: hufnag34@msu.edu

Tissue Culture Research Technician since 2016.


Co-Manager of the MSU Potato Program Tissue Culture Bank.



Andrea

Andrea Gracia-Ramirez


email: garci318@msu.edu

Research Technician since 2016

Current R
esearch Interests:


Potato SNP Genotyping research



Maher

Maher
Alsahlany 


email: maher_alsahlany@yahoo.com

Ph.D. student since 2013.

Current R
esearch Interests:


Ph.D. graduate student from Iraq. Maher is studying diploid potato breeding and how we can exploit self compatibility to develop true breeding potato lines.
Natalie

Natalie Kirkwyland
 


email: kirkwyla@msu.edu

Ph.D. student since 2015.

Current R
esearch Interests:


Ph.D. graduate student from Ithaca, NY. Natalie is studying diploid potato breeding and the introduction of insect resistance through glandular trichome and steroidal glycoalkaloid mechanisms.



Susan

Susan
Akinyi Otieno


email: otienosu@msu.edu

Ph.D. student since 2015.

Current R
esearch Interests:


Ph.D. graduate student from Kenya. Susan will be focusing her studies on using molecular assisted breeding to improve potato cultivars in drought tolerance.



Anna Zarka
Anna Zarka

email: zarkaann@msu.edu

Laboratory Research Aide

Current Research Interests:


East Lansing High School Student. I have learned various tissue culture techniques for virus removal in plants and I am involved in the program's virus eradication service.  I also assist Post Docs and Graduate students with various laboratory and greenhouse research experiments.