Visiting Scholar from India, Amandeep Kaur, aims to improve rice bran quality

Amandeep PhotoAmandeep Kaur, a visiting scholar from India, is currently performing research in Dr. Benildo de los Reyos’ functional genomics lab.  Kaur is pursuing her Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics.  She arrived at the University of Maine on Dec. 15 and will be performing research for one year.

Her research, titled “Allele mining for phospholipase D locus and transfer through MAS into elite breeding lines,” looks at genomic approaches to improve rice bran quality.

Kaurs’ research is funded by The Monsanto Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program, a competitive one-year scholarship program launched in 2009 that offers fellowships for highly motivated individuals seeking a Ph.D. in rice or wheat plant breeding.

“International research allows developing countries to be exposed to new research,” said Kaur. “I can bring back the new technology and research topics to my laboratory in India and I can teach my colleagues what I learned while in the U.S.”

Rice and wheat are two staple food crops critical to the food security of more than 3 billion people around the world—which feeds more than half the world’s population.  Productivity in these two crops has remained relatively static for decades due in part to limited research investment. Kaur hopes to change that.

Coming to the United States, Kaur is excited to experience every season.  Upon her arrival, she experienced her first snow. “I loved the snow, and since I will be here for a year I will be able to experience all the seasons. I’m excited.”

Dr. de los Reyos’ was very pleased to be selected as Kaur’s mentor.  “Amandeep’s research was a good fit for my lab because I work on both comparative and functional genomics in rice, with a particular emphasis on analysis of sequence variations and its implication on reconfiguration of regulatory networks.”