Diego Jarquin, research assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has earned the 2020 National Association of Plant Breeders Early Career Scientist Award.
The announcement was made during the group's virtual conference hosted by Nebraska, Aug. 17-20.
This award recognizes a scientist in the early stages of their plant-breeding career who exhibits the ability to establish strong research foundations, interact with multidisciplinary teams and participate in relevant professional societies.
"Diego's excellent work in genomic prediction, along with his cutting-edge prediction software, his multidisciplinary knowledge, talent for teaching and experience make him one of the top scientists in the area of genomic prediction," his nomination letter stated.
Jarquin received a doctoral degree in statistics from the University of Postgraduate Education in Mexico in 2012. He received postdoctoral training at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has been at Nebraska since 2017.
In his program, Jarquin merges statistical methodology, quantitative genetics, computer algorithm development, data science and collaborative work with plant sciences. He seeks to advance prediction models for forecasting plant performance while accounting for several sources of information and by taking genotype-by-environment interaction into consideration.
Jarquin has already established an excellent publication record on the development of prediction models and applications.
Jarquin routinely seeks opportunities for collaborating with scientists who can benefit from applications and models that account for the effects of weather and biotic stressors and their interactions to better understand plant development. He is leading several projects related to the development of statistical models to perform predictions of crop performance. These models are flexible enough to handle the high-dimensional nature of genomic and environmental factors, as well as all interactions that might arise between each molecular marker and other type of covariates. His developments have led to the improvement of predictive ability of conventional models by 30-70%, depending on the crop-trait combination.
Jarquin is engaged with scientists on several projects where he provides expertise for understanding the crop performance via high-dimensional interactions between genotypes and biotic and abiotic factors. For example, he is involved in the Genomes to Fields and the SoyNAM projects, which include 30 states in the United States and two Canadian provinces. In both projects, a large amount of environmental and soil information is utilized for analysis. He is also collaborating with the public and private sectors on the development of new theories and models for understanding the genotype-phenotype relationship.
Jarquin is also active in many professional organizations and is currently section leader in the Bioinformatics in Crops and Soils Community in the American Society of Agronomy, enhancing communication among scientists in different divisions.
Jarquin will present an invited talk at the next National Association of Plant Breeders annual meeting, to be hosted by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in August 2021.
The National Association of Plant Breeders is a unique organization in the United States, bringing together public and private sector plant breeders to share technical information, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs, develop the next generation of scientists, disseminate information about plant breeding and advocate for a cohesive national plant breeding agenda. The PBCC provides a forum to discuss and educate the public about plant breeding. Plant breeders develop new crop varieties that promote food security, quality of life and a sustainable future.