Irwin Goldman Irwin has been a faculty member at UW-Madison since 1992 and is currently a professor in the Department of Horticulture. He is a plant breeder and runs breeding programs on carrot, onion, and table beet. Irwin teaches courses in food and seed sovereignty, vegetable crops, plants and human wellbeing, and evolutionary biology. You can contact him at or 608-262-7781.

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


Madeline Oravec Madeline is a postdoc working on mapping genes associated with root shape on an NSF-funded project based at the University of Georgia. Maddy has a B.S. from Cornell University, and M.S. from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics. She also recently completed a postdoctoral project at the University of Minnesota.


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.


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.

Audrey Kruse Audrey Kruse is a M.S. student working on identifying QTL associated with resistance to bacterial leaf spot caused by Psuedomonas syringae pv. aptata. Audrey is funded by a USDA-SCRI grant based at Penn State University. She holds a B.S. degree from Purdue University and is from Indiana.

Audrey Pelikan  Audrey Pelikan is a M.S. student working on identifying genes for flavor and culinary traits in table beet. Audrey is funded by a USDA-Hatch grant. She holds a B.S. degree from UW-Platteville and is a native of Wisconsin. She will be joining our lab in August of 2022.

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

Recently Graduated Graduate Students

Michael King, CALS

Katharina Wigg recently completed her Ph.D. working on Rhizoctonia solani resistance in table beet. Kat is now an onion breeder with Enza Zaden, based in California.

Emilee Gaulke recently finished her M.S. degree working on resistance to bacterial leaf spot in table beet and Swiss chard. Emilee is now with Illinois Foundation Seed in Harvard, Illinois.

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

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