Ben is the lead technician for the winter malting barley breeding program, managing all aspects. He has a B.S. in Agronomy from OSU (2017), majoring in Sustainable Plant Systems with a specialization in Agronomy and a minor in Plant Pathology and Animal Nutrition. In December 2020 he completed his M.S. Ben’s M.S. thesis project title is Identifying phenotypic traits critical for breeding winter malting barley adapted to Ohio and the genomic regions affecting those traits.
For his project Ben grew a population of 350 different winter barley lines at three locations across Ohio the 2019–20 and 2020–21 field seasons, and rigorously assessed 31 traits of importance. We are continuing with this project, currently assessing material from the 2020–21 season. A subset of about 160 lines are also being grown in the Ohio winter barley scab nursery. These lines are being genotyped (genetically fingerprinted) with the objective of identifying DNA fingerprints associated with the different traits. With that information in hand the idea is that we can then predict trait qualities of future lines before they are put into the field. In this way we focus our efforts on delivering only the best lines to farmers.