Current Laboratory Personnel

Current Postdocs and Graduate Students (hover over image for name)

Shakirah Nakasagga is a Postdoctoral Research Associate who will be joining our lab in the summer of 2021. Shakirah is originally from Uganda and is completing her Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. Her work at UW-Madison is part of an NSF project on the genetic control of root shape led by Esther van der Knapp from the University of Georgia. __________________________________________________________________________

Katharina Wigg Katharina Wigg is a Ph.D. student working on breeding for resistance to Rhizoctonia solani in table beet. Katharina has a B.S. from Iowa State University. Photo by Michael P. King




Adam D’Angelo Adam is a Ph.D student working on improving flavor and eating quality in table beet. His work is supported by a USDA Hatch Grant. Adam has a B.S. in Plant Biology and Agriculture & Food Systems from Rutgers University, and in his spare time enjoys producing videos about plant breeding and agriculture for his YouTube channel, The Seed Scholar.



Chandler Meyer Chandler Meyer is a Ph.D. student who is co-advised with Patrick Krysan. She is the recipient of the 2021 Gabelman-Seminis Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics. Chandler has a B.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is working on a gene editing project in carrot, focusing on the production of carrot haploids and the development of a haploid inducer.

Emilee Gaulke Emilee Gaulke is an M.S. student who is working on a USDA-SCRI funded project on bacterial leaf spot in table beet. The project is based at Penn State University and includes collaborators across the country. Emilee’s frocus will be on identifying resistance in both the vegetative and reproductive phases in table beet and Swiss chard germplasm sources. Emilee holds a B.S. from Lake Forest College and has worked for the past several years at Exact Sciences in Madison. ______________________________________________________________________

Andrey Vega Alfaro Andrey is a Ph.D. student who is working on a mapping study to identify QTL associated with root shape in carrot, building on the work of Scott Brainard. Andrey is also interested in understanding Genotype x Environment interactions affecting shape in carrot. Andrey has a M.S. degree in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison. He is from Costa Rica.


Liam Dixon Liam is a Ph.D. student who is working on a project examining foliar disease resistance in table beet. His work is supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant program as well as the WISCORE program, which focuses on organic environments. Liam has an M.S. from Washington State University.





Current Undergraduate Students (hover over image for name and major)

Recently Graduated Graduate Students

Photo by Michael P. King

Solveig Hanson recently completed her Ph.D. working on genetic aspects of flavor and culinary quality in table beet. Solveig has a B.A. from Grinnell College, and extensive experience as an organic farmer and the seed industry. She is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of British Columbia in Canada.


Photo by Michael P. King

Claire Luby completed her Ph.D. in our program and worked  a Faculty Associate on seed sovereignty and seed stewardship with Wisconsin tribes. She also taught introductory horticulture, Horticulture 120, in our department. Claire is currently a Research Geneticist for the USDA-ARS in Corvallis, Oregon, focusing on blueberry breeding and genetics.


Scott Brainard completed his Ph.D. in February, 2021 working on the genetic control of market class and root shape in carrot. Scott has an M.S. from Wageningen University and a B.A. from Swarthmore. Scott is now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working on hazelnut genetics and genomics.







Lynn Maher completed her Ph.D. working on bi-directional selection for geosmin in table beet. Lynn is currently a carrot breeder with Bejo.



Chris D’Angelo


Chris D’Angelo completed his Ph.D. working on understanding dormancy and vernalization requirements in onion. Chris is currently a sweet corn and root crop breeder with Illinois Foundation Seeds.




Recently Graduated Undergraduate Students