Lab Members

Hufford Lab taking on the Pumpkinville Corn Maze
Hufford Lab taking on the Pumpkinville Corn Maze

Matthew Hufford, Associate Professor:
Matt joined the faculty of the Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology Department at Iowa State University in Fall of 2013. Prior to this, Matt worked as a postdoctoral scholar with Jeff Ross-Ibarra at the University of California, Davis and completed his graduate training, also at UC Davis, under the instruction of Paul Gepts. Matt is a bona fide maize geek, is fascinated by crop evolution and ecology, and has a nasty marathoning habit.

Michael Syring, Lab Manager:
Michael comes to the maize genomics world from a diverse research background in human genetics, proteomics, and personalized medicine. With a degree in Biotechnology/Chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa, Michael will assist on current research projects, while managing students and day-to-day laboratory activities. Michael's interests in the lab also extend to bioinformatics and data analysis. Outside the lab Michael enjoys rock climbing, running, and baseball, and doing all these activities with his wife and kids.

Arun Seetharam, Associate Scientist:
Arun's main interests are in the fields of bioinformatics and evolutionary genomics. Currently, he is working on various projects involving next & third generation sequencing including genome assemblies, annotation, and identification of structural variation. He is also developing pipelines to streamline the assembly and annotation process for newly sequenced organisms. Arun's long-term goal is to study the genome organization and evolution of grass species.

Shujun Ou, Postdoctoral Scholar:
Shujun joined the Hufford lab in the Spring of 2019. He obtained a PhD in Plant Genetics and Evolution from Michigan State University under the instruction of Ning Jiang. Shujun is interested in transposable elements and population genetics. He is working to understand the functional and adaptive significance of TEs during the evolution of plants, primarily in crop species. Rice and maize are his favorite systems. Shujun's additional interests include (ice-)fishing, volleyball, badminton, outdoor activities, and cooking.

Qiuhan Jiang, Graduate Student:
Elena-Qiuhan joined the Hufford lab as a Ph.D. student in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in the Spring of 2020. She obtained a BS in Biology from Iowa State University. She is interested in identifying structural variants (SVs), such as chromosomal inversions between temperate and tropical maize lines, in order to increase understanding of how SVs associate with phenotypic traits such as flowering time, disease resistance, plant height, kernel compositions etc., and play a role in adaptation. Elena’s additional interests include painting, hanging out with her pets and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Nancy Manchanda, Graduate Student:
Nancy is a PhD student in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) program. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from IILM College of Engineering and Technology, India and Masters in Bioinformatics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. After receiving her masters degree, she worked at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India. Her research interest includes methods for characterization of genome assembly and gene structure annotations. She is currently working on the assembly and analysis of the genome of the maize inbred line B104 using transcriptomics and epigenomics datasets. In her spare time, Nancy loves to create digital paintings and play badminton.

Samantha Snodgrass, Graduate Student:
Samantha joined the lab in the Spring of 2018 and studies the genetic models of hybrid vigor and genome evolution across Zea. She started research at Grinnell College studying urban stormwater dynamics and sustainable landscaping. Along with research at Iowa State University on the relationship between genome and cell size in cotton, these research experiences inspired her to pursue plant sciences. After graduating in 2016 with her bachelor's degree in biology and environmental studies, Samantha worked as a field botany technician for the Alaska Bureau of Land Management through the Conservation Land Management Internship program run through the Chicago Botanical Garden. She then returned to Grinnell College to work as a post-baccalaureate fellow for the Partners In Education program, which offers peer mentorship and support to current students. Since coming to Iowa State University, she has also joined the NSF-NRT Predictive Plant Phenomics program as a trainee (follow on Twitter @p3iastate) and is an NSF GRFP fellow. When not tending to maize plants or navigating the command line, Samantha tends to her orchid collection or makes art.

Chase Krug, Undergraduate Student:
Chase is an undergraduate majoring in Agronomy and is also considering minoring in Philosophy with a specialization in the philosophy of science. Chase joined the lab in the Fall of 2019, having previously conducted research as a 2018 World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Intern at the World Vegetable Center in Hyderabad, India. In India, he worked on physical and biochemical methods of bruchid resistance in mungbean. As a result of his research, Chase was awarded the World Food Prize John Chrystal Award. Chase was a 2019 USDA Wallace-Carver Fellow, stationed in the Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit at Purdue University. His research involved screening the soybean pathogen Phytophthora sojae for double-stranded RNA viruses as a method of biocontrol. Chase also serves as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador through the Iowa State Undergraduate Research department. Outside of research, Chase serves as Treasurer of the Iowa State University Student Government Election Commission. Chase’s hobbies include gardening and breeding tree peonies.

Alumni:
Lucas Roberts, Graduate Student at the University of Illinois
Aimee Schulz, Graduate Student at Cornell University
Kathryn Kananen, Graduate Student at Cranfield University
Kelsey Bryant, Scientist at Integrated DNA Technologies
Garrett Janzen, Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Georgia
David Hufnagel, Bioinformatician at USDA-NADC
Li Wang, Faculty Member at the CAAS Agricultural Genomics Institute in Shenzhen, China

Collaborators:
Carson Andorf, USDA-ARS, MaizeGDB
Ed Buckler, USDA-ARS, Cornell University
Graham Coop, University of California, Davis
Kelly Dawe, University of Georgia, Athens
Sherry Flint-Garcia, USDA-ARS, University of Missouri
Toby Kellogg, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Rubén Rellán-Álvarez, NC State University
Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, University of California, Davis
Daniel Runcie, University of California, Davis
Ruairidh Sawers, Penn State University
Adam Siepel, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Doreen Ware, USDA-ARS, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Maggie Woodhouse, USDA-ARS, MaizeGDB