Department of Plant & Soil Science adds plant geneticist Yinping Jiao
By: Norman Martin
Yinping Jiao, an expert in Plant Genomics and Genetics, has been named an assistant professor with Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science, according to officials within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She officially stepped into her new research and teaching post on Jan. 1.
Jiao will be working within Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources newest scientific team - the Center for Functional Genomic of Abiotic Stress. Led by Luis Rafael Herrera-Estrella, the high-profile research group will examine how plants adapt to thrive in the presence of environmental stresses such as extreme heat and cold, drought and in the presence of brackish water sources.
Herrera-Estrella's arrival at Texas Tech was made possible by a $5 million grant from the State of Texas Governor's University Research Initiative (GURI) and matched by the university to bring the best and brightest researchers to Texas.
Jiao's research is devoted to obtaining a deeper understanding of the genetic diversity and regulatory mechanism of important agronomic traits in crops, with the goal of facilitating breeding. Agriculture is facing myriad challenges related to rapidly growing global populations and the decreasing of natural resources.
Genetics and genomics research can provide targets for molecular plant breeding, which is an essential strategy for enhancing our current and future food security and agricultural sustainability.
One of her primary goals at Tech is to identify key loci contributing to the high abiotic stress tolerance in sorghum. Sorghum is one of the major crops in west Texas. Jiao's research will provide guides to breeding strong sorghum.
Prior to joining the Tech faculty, Jiao served as an a computational postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a private, non-profit institution with research programs focusing on cancer, neuroscience, plant biology, genomics, and quantitative biology. She also worked as a research associate with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.
Her bachelor's degree in biotechnology is from Shandong Agricultural University in Shandong, China. Her doctorate in plant genetics and breeding is from China Agricultural University in Beijing, China.
GURI was created in 2015 by Gov. Greg Abbott's Office of Economic Development & Tourism and the state legislature to encourage universities to bring the world's top researchers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine to Texas. The matching grant program assists institutions of higher learning in Texas with recruiting distinguished researchers, particularly targeting Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences, in an effort to further economic and workforce development.
Texas Tech officials convinced the state and the GURI Board of the importance of initiating this research at Texas Tech by demonstrating how the institute will be beneficial both to Texas Tech and the cotton industry, one of the top economic drivers in West Texas. The matching funds were required to originate from somewhere other than government-appropriated funding within the university's overall budget.
Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science is a comprehensive academic unit, conducting research and offering coursework and programs in several areas of plant and soil science. It has 33 full-time faculty members, and a student body consisting of approximately 180 undergraduate and 114 graduate students. Many of those students are enrolled in CASNR's distance education program.
CONTACT: Glen Ritchie, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742- 4325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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