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NCSU Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics Program Student Wins National Competition

November 1, 2012

Jennifer Kimball posing in the lab

Jennifer A. Kimball was awarded 1st place in the Stress Physiology, Breeding, and Genetics of Turfgrass Graduate Student Competition (oral session) of section C05, Turfgrass Science, at the Agronomy Society of America, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meetings. This prestigious meeting was held in Cincinnati, Ohio during Oct 21st-24th 2012.

She presented work entitled "Patterns of Genetic Variation Suggest Introgression between Zoysia Species" with authors: Jennifer A. Kimball, Maria C. Zuleta, Karen R. Harris-Shultz, Kevin E. Kenworthy, Virginia G. Lehman, and Susana R. Milla-Lewis (http://scisoc.confex.com/scisoc/2012am/webprogram/Session9534.html).

This work, part of Ms. Kimball's MS thesis, focuses on understanding genetic variation patterns in Zoysiagrass (Z. japonica and Z. matrella) with the ultimate goal of improving breeding strategies in the species'. Results from this study have begun to compartmentalize this variation, which could aid breeders in maintaining high levels of diversity within their germplasm collections and in selecting parents for crossing programs. Additionally, information generated from this study could aid in the development of species-specific management protocols.

Ms. Kimball is currently a PhD candidate student with the Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics program at NC State University, studying under Dr. Susana R. Milla-Lewis. This programs' research work includes the generation of genomic information for warm-season grasses with the goal of improving the efficiency of breeding efforts in these species.

Kimball received a BA in Biology from Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY and MS in Crop Science from NC State University. Her PhD research focuses on improving cold tolerance in St. Augustinegrass through both conventional and molecular breeding methods. The goal of her research is to increase and better the use of this grass species throughout North Carolina.

"As a graduate student, it's exciting to work with turf while studying plant breeding and genetics. There are numerous species that have different end-uses, production systems, and genetic issues to deal with. The variability within the crop lends graduate students the unique opportunity to work on very diverse research projects" says Kimball.

While only in its third year of existence, it is clear the NC State University Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics Program is off to an impressive start. Dr. Milla-Lewis and her team continually prove to be an excellent addition to the nationally recognized NCSU Turfgrass Program. With graduate students the caliber of Jennifer Kimball it is clear the future of the NCSU turfgrass breeding program is bright.