Esteban Fernando Rios

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Dr. Esteban Fernando Rios (@ForageBreeding on Twitter) is an Assistant Professor in Forage Breeding and Genetics in the Agronomy Department at the University of Florida since March 2017. Dr. Rios holds MS and PhD degrees in the area of forage breeding and genetics from the University of Florida. He has worked with tropical grasses in the genus Paspalum breeding for improved forage traits and seed production, and alternatively for turf performance under low-maintenance conditions. Dr. Rios leads the Forage Breeding and Genetics Lab through an integrated research approach that includes controlled lab experiments, manipulated greenhouse and field experiments, and on-farm testing. The focus of his research program aims to address the following specific objectives:

1. Harnessing phenotypic and genetic diversity in forage gene banks.

2. Investigate the application of novel breeding/genetic tools in forage breeding.

3. Implement the use of high-throughput phenotyping methods in forage breeding.

Dr. Rios teaches three graduate-level courses and he has mentored 26 undergrad and graduate students, including 4 PhD sandwich students from Brazil. HIs areas of expertise and instruction are genetics, plant breeding and experimental designs.

My research plays a vital role in advancing plant breeding efforts because I develop, apply and evaluate the performance of state-of-the-art statistical and quantitative genetics analyses that quantify “genotype-to-phenotype” associations, and then interpret and disseminate the results to interdisciplinary collaborators. Advances in computational and sequencing approaches have made vast amounts of genomic and phenotypic data available for analysis. These data have the potential to not only provide biological insight into the heritable mechanisms underlying agronomically important traits, but also to shape breeding efforts so that crops can provide higher yield under increased environmental stresses brought forth by climate change. To guarantee that accurate interpretations of these data are being made, it is essential that appropriate statistical approaches are being used in the data analysis. My research program is fulfilling this need by collaborating with fellow scientists who seek to make inferences from these data and then develop the necessary statistical tools to perform analyses.

Alexander Edward Lipka

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