- 1300 Centre St
Boston, MA 02131
Robert E. King Distinguished Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
One plant family, the grass family, provides over half of human food and covers almost 1/3 of the earth’s land surface. As we learn more about wild grasses, we discover clues about how to improve crops for human use. As we learn more about cultivated grasses (e.g., wheat, corn, rice, barley) we uncover evolutionary history and mechanisms of plant growth and development. My career has investigated this family via many different disciplinary approaches.
I am classically trained in plant taxonomy and phylogenetics, investigating the evolutionary history of grasses and adjusting the classification so that it reflects that history. This work has been the through-line for much of the work in my lab. From that central path, I have branched out into work on physiology of photosynthesis, developmental genetics of floral and inflorescence development, and comparative genomics of the grasses related to corn (maize) and sorghum. My lab has addressed how evolution has produced the huge species diversity of the grass family, and how humans can harness that diversity to unlock the genetic potential of cereal crops.