Jennifer R. Mandel
Current position: Asst. Research Scientist, University of Georgia, Plant Biology Dept.
Beginning January, 2014: Asst. Professor, The University of Memphis, Bio. Sci. Dept.
I have broad interests in ecological and evolutionary genetics, and I am particularly fascinated by the extraordinary amount of diversity that can be seen not only in natural populations, but even within a single crop species. My major research goal is to understand the processes and mechanisms that lead to this remarkable genetic and phenotypic diversity. Topics of special interest to me are identifying genetic and genomic changes underlying phenotypic differences and the role of selection acting upon these. I also have strong interests in preserving biodiversity and understanding the threats and consequences of its loss.
As a researcher in Dr. John Burke’s lab at the University of Georgia, my primary research currently centers upon developing and characterizing an association mapping population in sunflower, H. annuus. The major goal of this project is to examine the genetic basis of complex traits in sunflower by utilizing a high-resolution mapping approach.
My doctoral work focused on a rare and endangered sunflower species, Helianthus verticillatus, which is known to only four locations in the world. The species is native to the southeastern United States and is a candidate for federal listing on the Endangered Species Act. Ultimately, the results of my dissertation research prompted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to increase the priority status for listing of this species.