The Texas A&M Plant Breeding Symposium is fully organized by a committee of graduate students studying plant breeding and related sciences.


Acting Committee


Nolan Bentley

Ph.D. Student, Horticulture

Nolan Bentley is a fourth year PhD student from Sugar Land, Texas under Dr. Patricia Klein in the Department of Horticultural Sciences. Nolan is developing genomics resources for pecan trees in collaboration with Dr. LJ Grauke of the USDA National Collection of Genetic Resources for Pecans and Hickories. These resources include genetic markers, genetic linkage maps, and the discovery of QTL associated markers. Nolan received his teaching certification and B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University in 2010 and then subsequently spent four immensely enjoyable years teaching high school science in Cypress, Texas.

Anil Adhikari

Ph.D. Student, Plant Breeding

Anil Adhikari is a PhD student in the wheat breeding and genetics group of Dr. Amir Ibrahim at Texas A&M University. He is a native of Nepal and received his BS in Agriculture Science (Plant breeding) at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He came to US for his MS in Plant Pathology at University of Minnesota in 2013 and worked on disease resistance genetics of small grains. His current research is on hybrid wheat. He is working on a joint project with University of Nebraska, CIMMYT and Texas A&M. His project entails testing experimental hybrids in various locations in Texas and mapping fertility restorer genes for CMS based hybrid seed production system in wheat. His career goal is to be a research scientist in plant breeding and genetics in academia or industry.


Yu-Ya Liang

Ph.D. Student, Plant Breeding

Yuya is a second-year Ph.D. student, from Taiwan, under Dr. Endang Septiningsih in the rice (minor in peanut) breeding and genetics program. She is working on rice stresses tolerance, peanut disease resistance, yield and important agronomic traits. She is developing linkage map, SNP markers and identifying QTLs in rice and peanut by using ddRAD-seq and RNA-seq technologies. She received her B.S. in Agronomy at NCHU, Taiwan and her M.S. in Plant Breeding and Genetics at NTU, Taiwan. Previously, she had been worked on late blight resistant genetics of tomato and genetic transformation on peanut.

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Jeewan Pandey

Ph.D. Student, Plant Breeding

Jeewan Pandey is a PhD student in the Potato breeding and genetics program of Dr. Isabel Vales at Texas A&M University. He is originally from Nepal and received his BS in Agriculture Science (Plant breeding) at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He came to US for his MS at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 2015 and worked on sweetpotato breeding and genetics program. His current research project is in potato which includes screening the potato clones for disease resistance using molecular markers. He aspires to graduate and advance his career as a plant breeder, reducing global hunger by improving crop yield and nutrition.

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Jales Fonseca

Ph.D. Student, Plant Breeding

Jales Fonseca is a second year PhD student from Brazil where he obtained his B.S. in Agronomy from FEIS - UNESP, and his M.Sc in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Federal University of Lavras. Currently, Jales is under the supervision of Dr. Rooney in the department of Soil and Crop Sciences. His primary focus is on the evaluation of grain sorghum hybrid performance from public breeding programs in the United States. His project is a collaborative effort between Texas A&M and Kansas State University. In the future, he hopes to become the CEO of a major seed company.


Cynthia Sias

MS Student, Crop and Soil Science

Cynthia Sias is a MS student from El Paso, Texas under Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan in the department of Soil and Crop Science. Cynthia is looking at the production of 2n gametes after successful hybridization between Sorghum bicolor and its weedy relative,  Sorghum halepense. Cynthia received her B.S. in Plant Science and Agricultural Science from Cornell University in 2018 and immediately joined the Aggie community the semester after graduating. Her goal is to be an interdisciplinary individual who uses her knowledge to help improve farmer’s livelihoods and educate consumers about where their food comes from.

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Roy Davis

Ph.D. Student, Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Roy Davis is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology under Dr. Thomas Chappell. His research focuses on utilizing low-altitude remote sensing data and the epidemiological modeling of the dispersal and dissemination of Fusarium wilt of cotton and citrus greening disease under field conditions. Roy graduated from Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC, in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. He later worked with Bayer Crop Science before beginning at Texas A&M in 2017. 

Past Committees

Organizing Committee 2018


Francisco Gomez


Ammani Kyanam


Anil Adhikari


Steve Anderson

Yu-Ya Liang

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Drutdaman Bhangu

Blake Young


Lorin Harvey


Nolan Bentley

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Náthalia Penna Cruzato


Organizing Committee 2015, 2016 and 2017

Laura Masor (2015 & 2016)


Sean Carver (2015)

Tessa Ries (2017)


Brian Pfeiffer (2015 & 2016)

Wardah Mustahsan (2017)

Laura Ann McLoud (2015)

Ellen Roundey (2017)

Smit Dhakal (2016 & 2017)

Dustin Wilkerson (2016 & 2017)