Schnable Lab News

2018, December

  • James Schnable submits his promotion and tenure package.

2018, November

  • Daniel Carvalho is awarded the Henry M. Beachell Fellowship. Article here.

  • Brandi Sigmon an assistant professor of practice and an expert on evolutionary development in maize and sorghum joins the lab.

2018, October

  • Chenyong Miao’s first paper as a first author in the Schnable Lab (a collaborative effort with the Yang Lab) comes out in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

  • Multiple lab members present their research at the University of Nebraska Plant Science Retreat.


  • We take possession of our new office space, now with even more desks and with a window.


2018, September

2018, August

  • Last day in the lab for many of the undergraduates who joined us for the summer. Going away celebrations includes both a nice dinner and intramural soccer game.

Undergrad Dinner Undergrad Dinner

Proso Millet Meeting

2018, July

  • Connor Pedersen’s last day. After graduating this spring he stuck around to help with one last field season before heading off for his new job at Los Alamos.

  • Working with the Yang, Sigmon, and Alfano labs we dug up 1000 maize root samples for the CRRI project. By the end (almost) everyone was really happy that we’re a heavily computational lab.

CRRI Root Sampling

Pearl Millet Greenhouse

2018, May

  • A successful planting in at UNL’s Havelock farm. 80,000 total kernels put into the ground over two days. Fortunate to have Schnable Lab alumni as a professor here at UNL to make this happen.

Havelock Planting1 Havelock Planting2

R->L Christine (Schnable Lab), Connor (Schnable Lab), Sam (Yang Lab), Jinliang Yang, Josh (Ag & Hort Field team). Photo Credit: Raghu (Yang Lab)

  • Our lab becomes a victim our our own success and is evicted from our office space over the summer while renovations take place to double the number of student desks.

Lost Offices

2018, April

  • With help and guidance from Jinliang Yang, his lab, and the Alfano lab, we’re preparing for our first real field season since the Schnable Lab at UNL was founded.

Field Preparations

  • Holly Podliska presents on her UCARE project over the past year, linking experimentally measured cold and freezing tolerance of grass species to botanical records of where the same species have been observed in the wild. Unfortunately we’re losing her at the end of the semester when she moves on to student teaching.

Holly's Poster

  • Connor Pedersen wins another prize at the UNL spring research fair for his own poster on linking greenhouse and field phenotypes.

Connor's SRF Poster

2018, March

  • Sunil Kumar leaves the lab for his real first postdoc in the Niedehuth Lab at Michigan State. He carries with him Pete2, a the same Tripsacum clone Jinliang Yang brought to the Schnable Lab from California.

Sunil Tripsacum

  • James Schnable receives the Marcus Rhoades Early Career Award at the Maize Genetics conference in St. Malo, France.


Thanks to Elizabeth Lee for the Photo

  • Halfway around the world at the same time James Schnable is at the Maize Meeting in France, Zhikai Liang is in Nanjing, China presenting on his plant phenotyping work at the 2nd Annual Asia-Pacific Plant Phenotyping Conference.

Zhikai APPPcon

  • Sarah Johnson becomes the second student to ever officially rotate in the Schnable lab. Sarah comes in with a background in plant pathology and soybean genomics and will be working on using image data to map QTLs in sorghum during her rotation.

  • Congratulations to Connor Pedersen, who won first prize in the undergraduate poster competition at the 2018 Nebraska Plant Breeding Symposium for his poster on a searching for computer vision traits from our greenhouse experiments which line up field measured traits from Genomes to Fields

Connor's Prize

2018 February

  • Zhikai Liang successfully advances to PhD candidacy

  • Chenyong Miao presents a poster on time-series GWAS at Plant Phenome in Tucson, Arizona. Chenyong Phenome Poster

2018 January

  • Xiuru Dai, a PhD student with one of our amazing collaborators (Pinghua Li at Shandong Agricultural University), starts a one year visit to the lab to identify additional genes involved in C4 photosynthesis using comparative genomics and machine learning

  • Nate Korth becomes the first student to ever officially rotate in the lab. Nate is one of the very first Nebraska Food for Health graduate fellows and is interested in research at the intersection of Food Science, Quantitative Genetics and the Human Gut Microbiome 2017.

2017 December

  • The lab bids farewell to Yang Zhang (lab member #1), as she leaves for a new staff scientist position at St. Jude Children’s hospital.

Yang's Goodbye Party

  • Daniel Carvalho advances to PhD candidacy.

2017 November

  • Sunil Kumar joins the lab for a short term postdoc focused on becoming one of the world’s experts on Tripsacum genomics – it’s a small community – before he becomes a founding member of the Niederhuth lab at MSU in the spring.

2017 October

  • We’re happy to welcome Guangchao Sun who just finished up his PhD in the Wilson lab to the lab. Guangchao is studying the genetic control of variation in gene expression levels across maize hybrids.

2017 September

  • Xianjun Lai and Lang Yan, two visiting scholars in the lab from Sichuan, China both returned home this month. Xianjun is finishing up his PhD thesis at Sichuan Agricultural University now that his three papers are all submitted, Lang is taking the skills she learned working with maize and tripsacum back to her job working on potato functional genomics.

2017 August

  • The Schnable lab welcomes two new members, Preston Hurst, a masters student who comes from a private sector plant breeding background and will be working on nitrogen use efficiency phenotyping in corn, and Holly Podliska a UNL UCARE student and World Food Prize Alumn who will work on reconstructing the evolution cold and freezing tolerance across panicoid grasses.

2017 July

  • The lab’s very first venture into root microbiome research, a collaboration with IndigoAgriculture organized through Genomes2Fields.

Microbiome Collection

  • Jinliang Yang leaves the Schnable Lab to start his own research group here at UNL as an assistant professor.

  • Daniel Carvalho is awarded a prestiguous graduate fellowship from the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute to support his work on comparative genomic analysis of independent origins of C4 photosynthesis.

2017 June

  • Welcome to the lab Connor Pedersen & Xiaoyang (Chloe) Ye – both undergraduate research assistants – and Nicole Hollander (a high school summer intern supported by UNL-CRRI).

2017 May

  • Thanks to all in the lab for a successful fascination of plants event! We packed 21 high school students into the lab office to learn how to compare syntenic orthologous genes across grain crops using CoGe.

Fascination of Plants Day

  • Farewell to Logan Olsen, a great undergraduate who has been helping with propogating diverse maize lines over the past year. He is graduating and has been immediately snatched up with an offer of a full time job.

2017 April

  • The Schnable Lab hosts SK Gupta, ICRISAT’s lead pearl millet breeder and our collaborator on a project to develop a genomic selection guided breeding program for pearl millet hybrids.

SK's Visit

  • Prof. Schnable presents on the lab’s work on high throughput phenotyping of water use efficency in maize and sorghum at the 2017 Water for Food Global Conference.

w4F Conference

  • Tom Hoban, a freshman undergrad in the lab gives his very first poster presentation! (Screening for new sorghum roothairless mutants.)

Tom's Poster

2017 March

  • The 59th annual maize genetics conference. Tom's Poster

2017 February

2017 January

  • Welcome aboard to Jinliang Yang, an alumi of the Ross-Ibarra Lab at UC Davis, the other Schnable Lab at ISU, and the Jinsheng Lai group at CAU.

  • First annual progress report on our collaborative cold stress project with the Roston Lab.

2016 December

  • ARPA-E annouces tentative funding for our collaboration with the Dong Lab at Iowa State to develop a new generation of nitrogen sensors to look at both nitrogen uptake and remobilization of corn plants in the field. Here’s the annoucement (as a PDF).

  • Greetings from the IPPN phenotyping meeting held at CIMMYT in Mexico City, home of the third largest ancient pyramid in the world at Teotihuacan.

2016 November

  • Congratulations to our awesome collaborators in the Ge Lab and many thanks to USDA NIFA for funding our EAGER grant on a new generation of plant phenotyping robots.

2016 October

  • The lab is happen to welcome Logan Olson and Thomas Hoban as new undergraduate research assistants. Thomas is conducting a screen for new sorghum roothairless mutants in a sorghum deletion population generated by the Holding lab, and Logan is working with the maize diversity panel being phenotyped and sequenced as part of the UNL Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation.

2016 September

  • Great write up in UNL today by the always excellent Scott Schrage about our collaborative work with the Ge Lab on maize phenotyping.

  • Gifts from the Gates Foundation and Raikes Foundation create the new Food for Health Center at the University of Nebraska. Lead by Andy Benson, the center will seek to understand the interactions between human health and the gut microbiome by using natural biochemical phenotypic diversity in crop plants to purturb the gut micriobiome.

2016 August

  • “Integration of omic networks in a developmental atlas of maize” led by Steve Briggs at UCSD and Justin Walley at ISU, is published in the journal Science. The Schnable lab’s contribution to this paper focused on using data from multiple grass species to predict which genes will produce both RNA and protein and which genes will produce only RNA which is not translated into protein. Departmental news coverage here.

  • Chenyong Miao joins the lab as a PhD student, having just completed a masters degree with Schnable Lab collaborator Haibao Tang at Fujian Agriculture and Forestery University.

2016 June

  • Taylor Horn (Baylor) and Kyle Johnson (BYU) join the Schnable Lab as NSF Bioenergy REU funded undergraduates.

2016 May

  • Daniel Carvalho wins a Milton E. Mohr Fellowship in Biotechnology.

2016 March

  • Zhikai Liang delivers a presentation at the 55th Annual Maize Genetics Conference on identifying different subtypes of the maize inbred B73 using published RNA-seq data. You can see the preprint describing the work he presented here.

  • At the same meeting a small subset of the progeny and grand progeny of Mike Freeling actually managed to gather in a single location. While the members of the Schnable lab (other than the PI) missed Freeling fest, they also had the chance to meet their grand advisor during the meeting.


And that’s it for 2015 folks!

2015 Holiday Dinner

2015 December

  • News breaks that the lab’s first federal grant, a collaboration with the Roston Lab to study low temperature tolerance across ten related grass species, was funded by USDA-NIFA

2015 October

  • 17 months after James arrived in Lincoln, the Schnable Lab is starting to look respectable.

17 Months

2015 September

  • Xianjun Lai arrives in the lab, supported by a CSC scholarship from the Chinese government to spend two years of his PhD in Lincoln.

2015 August

  • Daniel Carvalho is awarded a PhD fellowship by the Brazilian government to join the lab.

2015 July

  • Lab tour of a production maize farm just across the Missouri river in western Iowa. Fascinating experience, thanks to the Iowa Corn Growers for organizing.

Farm Tour

  • Our first attempt to grow corn plants at the new UNL automated phenotyping greenhouse. … it does not go well.

Phenotyping Attempt

2015 May

  • First attempt at a field season, working with David Holding’s lab to plant several hundred rows of maize RILs.

First Field Season

  • Zhikai Liang joins the lab from Mississippi State. His is the lab’s very first PhD student.

2014 September

  • Yang Zhang becomes the very first memeber of the Schnable research group. She comes from Pinghua Li’s research group at CATAS (Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences).

2014 May

  • James Schnable’s first day in the lab. He initially has no lab space, no office, no desk, and no idea what he’s doing. Year’s later, he’s worked his way up to 2/4.