Summer Seminar Series Detail

CDA Seminar: Jesse Poland & Duke Pauli

Professors Jesse Poland (KAUST) and Duke Pauli (University of Arizona) join us to introduce their labs and describe current research projects.


Jesse Poland & Duke Pauli

Tuesday, June 1

7:00 – 8:30 pm AST

On Zoom



Deep Learning for High Throughput Phenotyping in Wheat

Speaker: Jesse Poland

Professor of Plant Science, KAUST



Wheat is the most widely-grown crop in the world, providing over 20% of the calories and protein consumed globally. To meet food security demands in the coming decades, is it estimated that we must increase production of staple food crops by over 60%. This is a formable task for plant breeding. The breeding process is a time and resource-intensive endeavor that we aim to optimize using genomics tools such as whole genome prediction and precision, and high throughput phenotyping. In the breeding pipeline, tens of thousands of candidate varieties are evaluated with advancement of only a small fraction of the candidates as potential varieties. This evaluation requires extensive phenotyping which is a critical bottleneck in many programs. To address this challenge, we are developing innovative approaches to measure the suite of traits of interest for making breeding decisions. By combining high-resolution imaging with breeder scores, we can utilize ‘breeder trained’ convolutional neural networks to score complex morphological and developmental traits.  When brought together and applied at the scale of entire breeding programs, these approaches have potential to inform more accurate breeding decisions increasing the throughput and accuracy in breeding programs and greatly accelerating the development of improved varieties.   

About the Speaker

Jesse Poland joins KAUST from at Kansas State University, where he was an Associate Professor and served as Director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center and Director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics. 
His research is focused on wheat genetics and germplasm improvement by developing new marker technologies for use in breeding and association genetics. He is also focused on developing germplasm with resistance to important diseases of wheat; stem rust, stripe rust and leaf rust, hessian fly and barley yellow dwarf as well as abiotic stress tolerance to heat and drought. In collaboration with public breeding programs, Professor Poland’s group is implementing the use of genomic selection methods in wheat breeding. His field-based high throughput phenotyping platforms will accelerate basic and applied genomics and breeding research.
At KAUST, Professor Poland’s group will undertake new research into date palm breeding and genetics, halophyte germplasm characterization, and neodomestication breeding.



Utilizing High Resolution Phenomics Data to Breed Better Crops for a Changing Environment

Speaker: Duke Pauli

Assistant Professor of Plant Science, University of Arizona



As global climatic uncertainty continues to threaten sustainable agricultural production, we are faced with numerous challenges revolving around feeding a growing population with nutritious calories. Chief among these challenges is that of the abiotic stresses of heat and drought – the leading causes of crop losses globally. These two stressors, which often occur jointly, have devastating socioeconomic effects that ripple through populations. To address these problems, new crop cultivars are needed that are more climate resilient. Our research group is working on delivering these cultivars by using the world’s largest agricultural robot to measure and quantify how crop plants respond to drought and heat stress so that the genes and loci controlling key stress-adaptive traits can be targeted by plant breeding programs. Through these efforts, the data generated by this massive machine are being used to understand how environmental perturbations result in changes in both crop phenotype and performance. The information and insight gained from these efforts will help us understand the dynamic interplay between plants and their environment so that we can better identify the tipping points in their susceptibility to changing environmental conditions that are impacting global agriculture.

About the Speaker

Duke Pauli is an assistant professor in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona. Since starting his faculty position in 2018, he has been focused on developing a research program centered on understanding the genetic basis of stress adaptive traits in crop plants through various mechanisms including phenomics, field-based physiology, and quantitative approaches such as models and genetic mapping.



Part of the KAUST-UArizona Summer Seminar Series – Towards a Joint Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Desert Environments. Click here to view the full schedule.

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This event occurred in the past. You can watch the recording on our YouTube channel.


Jesse Poland

Professor of Plant Science, KAUST

Duke Pauli

Assistant Professor of Plant Science, University of Arizona

Event Quick Information

01 Jun, 2021
07:00 PM - 08:30 PM
Online Event