NGRL Staff Receive NPGS Special Achievement Awards
Two members of NGRL received Special Achievement Awards in June 2022 from the Plant Germplasm Operations Committee of the National Plant Germplasm System. Kurt Endress was recognized for his 39 years of service to GRIN, which has included being involved in almost every aspect of multiple generations of the system. Kurt is the System Administrator and Security Officer, but also contributes extensively to analysis, reporting, and development, and deployment efforts. Jennifer Friedman was recognized for her service in arranging agricultural inspections and issuance of phytosanitary certificates in Beltsville, MD that accompany hundreds of annual shipments of NPGS material to researchers outside the U.S. This task has been especially challenging during the pandemic, and Jennifer’s dedication and diligence has ensured that our germplasm remains accessible to scientists globally. NPGS Special Achievement Awards were established in 1991 to recognize exemplary efforts on behalf of the NPGS by those other than Curators/senior Scientists. Up to three awards are made annually. Congratulations to Jennifer and Kurt on these much-deserved awards. Photos: Left panel- Jennifer Friedman and her supervisor Karen Williams. Right panel- Kurt Endress receives his award from NGRL Research Leader Gary Kinard.
NGRL Welcomes New IT Specialist
Matthew Riggs joined NGRL as an IT Specialist in February 2022. Matt joins the GRIN team from the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity in Pensacola, FL, where he was a civilian IT Specialist. Matt served in the U.S. Air Force in IT capacities and was stationed in Florida, Hawaii, Texas, and Germany during his career. He holds degrees from the Community College of the Air Force and Trident University.
NGRL Welcomes New Botanist
Dr. Anne Frances joined the USDA-ARS National Germplasm Resources Lab as a Botanist on August 2, 2021. She will help develop and implement plant genetic resource conservation projects for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Anne joins NGRL after serving as the Lead Botanist for NatureServe for almost 11 years. NatureServe is a research and science advisory NGO based in Arlington, VA that was spun off from Nature Conservancy. In that position, Anne was involved in many plant genetic diversity conservation projects with federal, state, and local government partners, and the private sector. Anne is a native of Miami, FL with educational degrees from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (BS), Florida International University (MS) and the University of Florida (PhD).
Dr. Dimitre Mollov Receives Professional Society Award
Dr. Dimitre Mollov in the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory has been selected by the American Phytopathological Society (APS) for one of its 2020 Schroth Faces of the Future awards. He delivered a talk at the Schroth plenary session on August 12, 2020 as part of the APS annual meeting, which was converted to an all-virtual format this year due to the pandemic. Schroth awards are presented to early career scientists with an emphasis on their visions for the future of their discipline. They rotate among disciplines/topic areas annually, and 2020 is designated to recognize virologists. The award is a namesake of Dr. Milton Schroth and his wife, Nancy. Both are native Californians who grew up on citrus farms. Dr. Schroth is an Emeritus Professor at the University of California-Berkeley where he served as a plant pathology faculty for 33 years. Congratulations to Dr. Mollov!
NGRL Welcomes 2020 Summer Intern
NGRL is pleased to welcome Alexis Jones to NGRL as a summer intern. Dr. Melanie Schori, her mentor, developed a data and records project that Alexis can complete remotely. Although we typically welcome summer interns to the BARC campus in Beltsville, we are grateful the opportunity and technology is available to allow Alexis’s summer program to continue despite the pandemic. Alexis is a rising senior majoring in accounting at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA. Welcome to Alexis!
NGRL Welcomes New Employee
Anthony Muhle joined NGRL as a Biological Science Laboratory Technician in July 2020, working with Dr. Ruhui Li. Anthony has B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, in Horticulture and Agronomy-Plant Pathology Specialization, respectively. He also worked for about a year at the ARS Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research Unit in Lincoln, NE. We welcome Anthony to NGRL.
NGRL Welcomes Post-doctoral Research Associate
NGRL is pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen Bolus to NGRL as a Post- Doctoral Research Associate in May 2020. Dr. Bolus recently completed his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis. He holds a B.S. from Clemson University in Biochemistry. Dr. Bolus will be mentored by Dr. Dimitre Mollov working on high throughput sequencing detection and characterization of plant viruses. We welcome Dr. Bolus to ARS, BARC, and NGRL!
NGRL Welcomes New Program Support Assistant
Jason Blankenship joined NGRL as a Program Support Assistant in June 2020. Jason is a Peoria, IL native who served in the U.S. Army from 2006-2015, followed by civilian federal service in the Department of the Navy. Welcome to Jason!
NGRL Welcome ORISE Interns
NGRL is pleased to welcome two new participants in the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) program. Olivia Kraus (shown) is junior at the University of Maryland-College Park majoring in microbiology. She is working with Dr. Ruhui Li. Shadin Doski (not shown) is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park where she majored in Cellular Biology and Molecular Genetics. Dr. Dimitre Mollov is her mentor.
NGRL Welcomes Visiting Scientist from Slovenia
Dr. Zala Kogej will be a visiting scientist in NGRL in the spring 2020. Zala is a scientist in the Department of Biotechnology and Systems Biology at the National Institute of Biology, a public research institution in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She will be working with Dr. Dimitre Mollov in NGRL and colleagues in USDA-APHIS on high throughput sequencing projects.
Dr. Melanie Schori Named Editor-in-Chief of Rhodora
Dr. Melanie Schori, a Botanist in NGRL, was recently named incoming Editor-in-Chief of Rhodora, the journal of the New England Botanical Club. This peer-reviewed scientific journal, which has been published continuously since 1899, is devoted to North American botany with an emphasis on floristics, systematics, paleobotany, ecology, and conservation biology. As Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Schori will be overseeing the quarterly publication of Rhodora.
NGRL Welcomes 2019 Summer Interns
NGRL is pleased to welcome two summer interns for 2019. Melody Shang (left) is a rising junior at River Hill High School in Howard County, MD. Melody will be working with Dr. Ruhui Li and her internship is sponsored with funds from Friends of Agricultural Research-Beltsville (FAR-B). Matthew Sun (right) is a recent graduate of Churchill High School in Montgomery County, MD and will be attending UMD-College Park in the fall. Matthew is returning for a second summer and will be primarily helping with greenhouse and screenhouse projects that support NGRL research.
NGRL Welcomes Visiting Scientist from France
Dr. Nadine Marguerite Marie Le Nenaon will be a Visiting Scientist in NGRL for the summer 2019. Dr. Le Nenaon teaches at Arts et Métiers ParisTech and also recently obtained a degree in Plant Science and Production from the University of Angers. She did previous internships XishuangBanna Tropical Botanical Garden in China. Dr. Le Nenaon will work on projects with Drs. Dimitre Mollov and Melanie Schori.
NGRL Welcomes New Employee
Benjamin Haag joined NGRL as an IT Specialist working with the GRIN team on April 29, 2019. Benjamin is coming to USDA-ARS from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC where he was a developer in their in-house IT group. He has extensive experience as a Microsoft developer/data manager including previous federal service at the National Institute of Standards (NIST) and the Peace Corps/Department of State. Benjamin has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.
NGRL Welcomes ORISE Scholar
Shruti Dube joined NGRL in April 2019 as a participant in the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) program. She will collaborate with Dr. Melanie Schori to support GRIN-Taxonomy, the online global reference for taxonomy, common names, geographical distributions, and economic uses of agriculturally important plants. Shruti has BS and MS degrees from Bhopal University in India, and previous work experience with botanical projects at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
NGRL Welcomes ORISE Intern
Madeleine Chen joined NGRL in February 2019 as a participant in the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) internship program. Maddy is a sophomore at the University of Maryland College Park majoring in Nutrition Science.
NGRL Hosts GRIN-Global/Genesys Planning Meeting
The National Germplasm Resources Lab hosted a GRIN-Global/Genesys planning meeting in Beltsville November 6-8, 2018. Participants - front row: Melanie Schori (USDA), Matija Obreza (Crop Trust), Juan Carlos Alarcon (CIMMYT); back row: Pete Cyr (USDA), Karen Kittel (USDA), Martin Reisinger, Quinn Sinnott (USDA), Kurt Endress (USDA). Not Shown: Laura Gu (USDA), Gary Kinard (USDA). During the international GRIN-Global steering committee session on November 8, the group was joined by Edwin Rojas (Peru-CIP) and Eugene Timmermans (Canada-PGRC).
NGRL Hosts Colleagues from Korean Rural Development Administration
NGRL hosted three colleagues from the National Agrobiodiversity Center of the Rural Development Administration (RDA) for GRIN-Global training on October 29-November 1, 2018. Located in Jeonju City, the center is part of RDA National Institute of Agricultural Sciences and serves as the agricultural genetic resources genebank for Korea. Participating in the training were (left to right): Gyu Taek Cho, Jongsun Kim, and Eun-Ae Yoo.
NGRL Welcomes 2018 Summer Interns
NGRL is pleased to have three interns for the summer of 2018. Erin Rao (left) is a recent graduate of Atholton High School in Howard County, MD. She is volunteering in the pathology lab for the summer before entering the University of Maryland-College Park in the fall. Matthew Sun (center) is a rising senior at Churchill High School in Montgomery County, MD. He is helping with NGRL greenhouse and screenhouse work. Vera Swanson (right) is a 2017 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she dual-majored in Environmental Science and Russian Language and Civilization. She also completed a fellowship at the Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Vera is working with Dr. Melanie Schori on GRIN-Taxonomy projects.
NGRL Welcomes ORISE Interns
Matthew Buhl (left) and Meya Ngundam (right) have joined NGRL as participants in the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) internship program.
Matthew is a junior majoring in Public Health at the University of Maryland- College Park. Meya is a 2017 graduate from the University of Maryland-College Park where she majored in neurobiology. Meya plans to attend pharmacy school in the fall of 2018 after completing the internship in NGRL.
NGRL Scientist Receives ARS Award
Dr. Dimitre Mollov, a Plant Pathologist in NGRL, received the Early Career Scientist award for the Northeast Area of ARS during the ARS-wide awards ceremony on September 12, 2017. Shown in the photo, left to right: Chavonda Jacobs-Young, ARS Administrator; Dimitre Mollov; Dariusz Swietlik, Northeast Area Director for ARS; Ann Bartuksa, Under Secretary for USDA in the Research, Education, and Economics mission area. Congratulations to Dr. Mollov!
NGRL Welcomes Visiting Scientist
Dr. Luping Zheng will be a Visiting Scientist in NGRL through August 2018. Dr. Zheng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University in China. She will work with Dr. Ruhui Li on virus problems of quarantine significance.
NGRL Welcomes 2017 Summer Interns
NGRL is pleased to welcome three interns to the lab for the summer of 2017. Theo Leasca (left) is a junior Mechanical Engineering major at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is funded by the U.S. National Arboretum on a collaborative project to increase the interoperability and data exchange between BGBase and GRIN-Global. Cesar Urrutia (center) is returning to NGRL after also spending the summer of 2016 here. He is a junior at the University of California-Riverside majoring in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology. He will work with the pathology group on a sugarcane virus project. Erinn Gus Sinnott (right) is a graduate student nearing completion of her degree in International Development at the University of Amsterdam. Gus is helping with the agricultural inspections and shipping process for foreign distributions of germplasm, and also with GRIN-Taxonomy.
NGRL Welcomes New Botanist
Dr. Melanie Schori joined the USDA-ARS National Germplasm Resources Lab as a Botanist on January 9, 2017. She will assist in curating GRIN-Taxonomy for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Dr. Schori obtained a B.S. degree from Cornell University in Plant Science and a Ph.D. from Ohio University in Plant Biology. She is a member of the Botanical Society of America, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the International Association of Plant Taxonomists. She has also had several editorial roles in various botanical journals. Dr. Schori can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-504-8895.
GRIN-Global and Genesys Exhibit at GODAN Summit
GRIN-Global and our companion project Genesys (www.genesys-pgr.org/welcome) had an exhibit at the 2016 Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit held in New York City September 15-16, 2016. About 800 attendees participated in plenary and breakout sessions on the importance of sharing data related to food production, nutrition, and waste minimization. The NGRL booth included the capability to demonstrate both GRIN-Global and Genesys in real-time, as well as attractive banners and printed resource materials. The booth was staffed by Dr. Gary Kinard (USDA), Juan Carlos Alarcón Maldonado (CIMMYT), and Martin Reisinger (USDA).
(Left to right: Dr. Gary Kinard, Juan Carlos Alarcón Maldonado, and Martin Reisinger)
Martin Reisinger and GODAN participants (Photo by Perry Bindelglass)
GRIN-Global Team Receives USDA Award
The GRIN-Global team received an Abraham Lincoln Honor Award (ALHA) from the USDA for its work to develop and implement the GRIN-Global genebank information management system. The ALHA was presented at ceremony at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on September 13, 2016. The first photo below shows the GRIN-Global team minus Quinn Sinnott from Beltsville, MD and Josef Pohl from Ft. Collins, CO who were unable to attend. The second photo below shows Pete Cyr (middle left) from Ames and Gary Kinard (middle right), the Research Leader of NGRL, accepting the award on behalf of the team from Secretary Tom Vilsack (far left) and Deputy Secretary Gregory Parham (far right).
BARC Field Day Educates and Entertains Public
BARC held a Field Day for the general public on September 10, 2016. Thousands of attendees learned about the ARS research conducted at BARC with exhibits that were both fun and educational for the entire family. The NGRL booth showcased our work on the collection, conservation, and documentation of plant genetic resources, and on virus pathogens that cause economic problems when they “hitch a ride” on germplasm that is moving around the world. A highlight of the exhibit was a chance for attendees to become an honorary plant explorer by searching for bean germplasm among many other types of plants (top photo). Visitors to the booth included Daruisz Swietlik (bottom photo center), the Northeast Area Director for ARS, welcomed by Laura Gu (left) and Gary Kinard (right).
Visiting Scientist from Nanchang University
Dr. Liping Wu is a Visiting Scientist in NGRL until July 2017. Dr. Wu is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Nanchang University in the Jiangxi Province of China. She obtained a PhD in Plant Pathology from Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University. Dr. Wu is working with Dr. Ruhui Li in NGRL on quarantine plant virology research.
NGRL Welcomes 2016 Summer Interns
NGRL has been pleased to host two outstanding undergraduate interns during the summer of 2016. Amy Zhong, left, is a rising junior at Cornell University majoring in Information Science. Amy has worked with the GRIN-Global Development Team. Cesar Urrutia, right, is a rising junior at the University of California-Riverside majoring in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology. Cesar has worked with the pathology team on plant virus research.
NGRL Welcomes Two New Employees
Matt Eicholtz (left) and Eric Brewer (right) joined NGRL in March and April 2016, respectively, as temporary employees. Matt is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park. Eric obtained a B.S. degree from Cornell University and an M.S. from the University of Maryland-College Park.
NGRL Welcomes New Employee
Irazema Fuentes-Bueno joined NGRL as a new Biological Science Technician in February 2016. Irazema obtained a B.S. degree from the Instituto Tecnologico De Sonora in Mexico and an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University. She joins NGRL after working for several years at the ARS Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit in Manhattan, KS.
2016 Student Employees in NGRL
Yvette Tamukong, left, is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park with B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Technology.
Margaret McLaughlin, right, is a current student at Towson University, majoring in Biology with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology.
NGRL Scientist Participates in Documentary Film Screening
Dr. Gary Kinard, National Germplasm Resources Lab Research Leader, delivered a seminar on plant genetic resource conservation at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science-Appalachian Lab (UMCES-AL) in Frostburg, MD on February 19, 2016. Then on February 20th, he joined UMCES-AL faculty for a free public screening and discussion of the documentary film "Seeds of Time" at the historic Palace Theater in Frostburg. The film highlights the global work of Dr. Carey Fowler to conserve crop germplasm. It includes segments filmed at the ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO and on a plant exploration in Arizona for crop wild relatives of potato with John Bamberg from the ARS potato genebank in Sturgeon Bay, WI. About 100 members of the Frostburg, MD community enjoyed the film and lively discussions.
GRIN-Global Launched for the National Plant Germplasm System
On November 30, 2015, the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) began using GRIN-Global as its information management system. GRIN-Global is designed to provide the world's crop genebanks with a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use global plant genetic resource information management system. It will constitute the keystone for an efficient and effective global network of genebanks to permanently safeguard plant genetic resources vital to global food security, and to encourage the use of these resources by researchers, breeders, and farmer-producers. Information Technology specialists in NGRL, along with ARS colleagues in Ames, IA and Ft. Collins, CO are the primary developers of GRIN-Global. For more information on the project, please see https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/search.
NGRL Welcomes New Visiting Research Scholar
Dr. Nouman Tahir joined NGRL as a Visiting Research Scholar on December 1, 2014. Dr. Tahir recently completed his PhD from Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan. He will work with NGRL plant pathologists on quarantine pathology problems.
NGRL Scientist Conducts Crop Wild Relative Workshop for Native American community in Michigan
Botanist Karen Williams, with the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, was the lead instructor at the Crop Wild Relatives Workshop, hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), at Baraga, MI on August 5-6, 2014. The workshop was sponsored by the Cedar Tree Institute, as a part of their 2014 Zaagkii Wings and Seeds Project, and was in partnership with the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) Eastern Region and the USDA/ARS.
The workshop introduced the tribal members to crop wild relatives, native plants that are closely related to food crops, with a major focus on the crop wild relatives that are native to the United States. Conservation and use of these plants is a critical element of future food security. Speakers from the Chicago Botanic Garden and Ferris State University also made presentations on seed collecting and documenting wild plant populations.
In addition to receiving classroom training, workshop participants went to a cranberry bog on KBIC tribal lands to practice the methodology used by ARS and USFS to document and study wild populations of the two native species of cranberry. Fruits of these species have been collected by Native American Communities in the Upper Midwest and other locations for generations These wild species may also contain traits valuable for cranberry crop improvement. The goal of these studies is to identify cranberry populations that may be suitable for designation as in situ reserves for the species.
NGRL Welcomes New Scientist
The National Germplasm Resources laboratory welcomed Dr. Dimitre Mollov to USDA-ARS as a new permanent scientist (Plant Pathologist) effective October 21, 2013. Dr. Mollov joins ARS from the University of Minnesota, where he obtained his PhD in Plant Pathology in 2012. He looks forward to working with collaborators and stakeholders on problems related to quarantine pathogens that infect plant germplasm. Dr. Mollov can be reached at email@example.com or 301-504-8624.
World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, Second Edition Published
Dr. John Wiersema, a Botanist in the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, and collaborator Dr. Blanca Leon recently published the second edition of World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference. This 1,336 page reference book covers more than 12,000 economically important vascular plants that are used for a wide range of human activities. Such plants provide food and food additives, materials, fuels, medicines, forage, raw genetic material for plant breeding, or environmental and social effects. The coverage also includes poisonous plants and weeds.
The content of entries conforms to international standards and includes the accepted scientific name, synonyms, economic importance, common names in many languages, and geographic distribution of the species.
This new edition, published 14 years after the highly regarded first edition by Drs. Wiersema and Leon, includes twice the data of the previous version with almost 2,700 more plant entries and many more common names in script-based languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Chinese. As both collaboration among global plant science researchers and the international movement of plant material increases, this comprehensive reference will be indispensible for the proper and standardized identification and communication about economically important plants.
World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, Second Edition was published by CRC Press on January 7, 2013 and can be ordered online at http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439821428
The Svalbard Seed Vault
Popular press stories have described the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as the "Doomsday Vault" or the "Noah's Ark for Seeds". Located on a Norwegian archipelago in the arctic permafrost, the vault provides long-term back-up storage of global collections of important food-crop seeds. The facility is managed as a collaboration between the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, and the Government of Norway. The agreement for countries that store seeds here is similar to that of a safety deposit box in a bank, where only the original depositor has access to the contents of their box.
The NGRL is helping the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System deposit back-up samples of many important seeds from its collections at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. As of the early 2013, the U.S. has deposited almost 70,000 accessions (distinct samples) of more than 1,600 taxa of seeds crops at the vault.
For more information on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, see https://www.croptrust.org/work/svalbard-global-seed-vault/
GRIN-Global Wins Technology Transfer Award
The GRIN-Global software won the 2012 "Excellence in Technology Transfer" award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Midwest Region. On behalf of the GRIN-Global Team, Pete Cyr and Marty Reisinger accepted the award at the Awards Ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on August 14, 2012.
Crop Wild Relatives of the US
NGRL scientists, especially GRIN Taxonomist Dr. John Wiersema, are collaborators in a project to develop a conservation strategy for crop wild relatives (CWR) occurring in the US, especially species that are potentially useful to US agriculture. Crop wild relatives have contributed valuable traits to crop breeding programs, especially for pest and disease resistance, and will likely be key resources utilized to meet the challenges of global food production in this century as agriculture adapts to challenges of resource limitations and climate change. The project builds upon an effort to compile a national inventory of the native and naturalized CWR in the US, spearheaded by Curator/Geneticist Dr. Stephanie Greene at the USDA/ARS genebank in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is part of PhD dissertation research for Colin Khoury, currently at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. Learn more about the CWR of the US project, and provide valuable feedback, at http://cwroftheus.wordpress.com/.
Preserving Genetic Variety of Valuable Specialty Crops
Protecting, preserving, providing material is the goal of the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory (NGRL) and the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). An article on Preserving Genetic Variety of Valuable Crops provides some explanation of parts of the NGRL and the NPGS.
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