UW-Stevens Point: Benefits of hybrid soybeans examined at free lecture

The benefits of studying genetics to grow a better soybean, the second-most popular crop grown in Wisconsin, is the topic of a free public presentation sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Associate Professor of Biology Devinder Sandhu will present “Let’s Play Tag with ‘Jumping-Genes’: Soybean Research at UWSP” on Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. in the Pinery Room of the Portage Country Public Library, 1001 Main Street, Stevens Point. A question and answer segment follows the lecture. The presentation is the fourth of the eight-part College of Letters and Science 2012-13 Community Lecture Series.

Sandhu was part of a group of scientists from all over the world who sequenced the entire soybean genome in 2010. The new soybeans serve as an excellent source of oil and protein. His research is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the United Soybean Board.

“Although soybean genome is sequenced and we know about arrangement of the genes in the genome, still there is lot to learn,” said Sandhu. “Now the biggest challenge is to determine functions of these genes. Here at UW-Stevens Point, my lab is using several different genetic and molecular approaches to establish a link between genes and characters. Knowing which genes control specific traits, we will be able to develop high yielding, disease resistant and nutritionally superior soybean varieties.”

Currently, more than 25 UW-Stevens Point undergraduate students are part of Sandhu’s lab. “One of the main reasons I work at a teaching university is to work directly with undergraduates,” says Sandhu. “I truly invest in undergraduates.”

Sandhu earned his doctorate in agronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He teaches several courses at UW-Stevens Point, including Introduction to Plant Biology, Principles of Genetics and Plant Genetics. He has also won numerous awards, including the UW-Stevens Point University Scholar Award, The Pucci Family Faculty Award, the Department of Biology Excellence in Scholarship Award and the UW System Faculty Diversity Research Award.

The entire College of Letters and Science Community Lecture Series schedule and previously recorded videos may be viewed at http://www.uwsp.edu/cols/lectureseries.