Faculty for the Plant Breeding and Genetics Program

The faculty for the online Plant Breeding & Genetics Professional certificate are experts who have dedicated their careers to advancing the next generation of plant breeders and geneticists.

Keenan Amundsen

KEENAN AMUNDSEN

Associate Professor

Keenan Amundsen's primary research objective is to develop improved buffalograss cultivars. His lab's research is focused on enhancing buffalograss performance, seed yield, sod characteristics, and stress tolerance. At a basic research level, they apply genetics and computational biology tools to advance buffalograss breeding efficiency, develop improved cultivars, and understand the genetic components contributing to turf traits and stress tolerance.

Email: kamundsen2@unl.edu

P. Stephen Baenziger

P. STEPHEN BAENZIGER

Professor and Wheat Growers Presidential Chair

P. Stephen Baenziger's graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in Biochemical Sciences, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Purdue University. He is recognized at UNL as the former Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor and is currently the Nebraska Wheat Producers Presidential Chair, and has published numerous research papers on the topic of plant breeding and genetics.

Dr. Baenziger's specialty lies as the small grains breeder at the University of Nebraska. Cultivar and germplasm development are the main focus of his courses. His primary research goals at the university include developing improved breeding methodology, emphasizing on biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, and the use of biotechnology. His interests also include supporting the wheat, barley, and triticale industry of Nebraska. Throughout his tenure at UNL, Dr. Stephen Baenziger has a special interest in utilizing web-based technology in the delivery of his courses, in both traditional and non-traditional ways, to enhance the learning experience of his students.

Email: pbaenziger1@unl.edu

Tom Clemente

TOM CLEMENTE

Eugene W. Price Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology, Center for Plant Science Innovation

Tom Clemente received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from North Carolina State University, his M.S. in Plant Pathology from Oklahoma State University and his B.S. in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are in developing tools for functional genomics and implementing genetic engineering for plant germplasm enhancement targeting value-added and disease-control traits. His laboratory has research programs on soybean, wheat, maize, sorghum, and turf grasses. Dr. Clemente also serves as the director of the Plant Transformation Core Research Facility (PTCRF), a state-of-the-art facility at the University of Nebraska that provides services for vector constructions, plant transformations and characterizations of the derived transformants.

Email: tclemente1@unl.edu

Joe Keaschall

JOE KEASCHALL

Professor of Practice

Joe Keaschall spent 38 years in the plant breeding industry prior to joining the faculty at Nebraska as a Plant Breeding Professor of Practice. He earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1983. Keaschall earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dr. Keaschall spent 11 years as a corn breeder for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., in Windfall, IN, followed by 19 years as the Corn Research Director for the Eastern, Central and Western US regions and Southern Europe. He also spent 2 years as the Corn Product Program Director for Latin America, Southern/Western United States and the Ag. Traits projects for drought tolerance for two years.

A native of Ravenna, NE., his goal is to inspire and educate future plant breeding scientists and research associates. Dr. Keaschall’s research interests include drought tolerance improvement and yield enhancement & stabilization of crops in Nebraska and around the world.

Email: jkeaschall2@unl.edu

Donald J. Lee

DON LEE

Associate Professor

Donald J. Lee graduated from Augustana College with a B.A. in Biology, received his M.S.. in Agronomy from South Dakota State University and received a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Montana State University. Dr. Lee has published many articles on the topic of plant breeding in genetics. His research interests focus on the detection and assessment of molecular genetic variation in crops, weeds and native plants as well as the development of Internet resources for teaching genetics to a wide variety of learners. His research also focuses in understanding new and traditional genetic technologies and their role in the development of our food and feed. Dr. Lee provides extension training on the topics of transgenic crop development and plant breeding, and the application of genetics in the development and management of our crops.

Email: dlee1@unl.edu

Oscar Rodriguez

OSCAR RODRIGUEZ

Research Professor

Oscar Rodriguez graduated from Texas A&M University with his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology & Microbiology/Breeding & Genetics.  His Master's and Bachelor's degrees were earned at the Universidad Autonoma Agraria "Antonio Narro."  His area of focus is popcorn breeding and he has numerous publications on popcorn, forages, buffalograss and small grains. He is also interested in statistics.

Email: orodriguez3@unl.edu

Leah Sandall

LEAH SANDALL

Distance Education Coordinator

Leah Sandall is an Assistant Professor of Practice and the department's Distance Education Coordinator.  She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with her bachelor's and master's degrees in Agronomy. 

Her research interests include assessment of educational materials and teaching methods in the classroom to promote active student learning.  She currently teaches online Biotechnology classes (AGRI 115).  Leah also provides instructional design for the department's online courses.

Email: lsandall5@unl.edu