James L. Carmon Award 2016
Josh Clevenger, a doctoral student in the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics, uses genomic data and computational approaches to find genetic signatures of resistance to aflatoxin in peanut. Aflatoxin is a highly carcinogenic compound that causes liver damage in both animals and humans, and it is especially problematic for farmers in developing nations. Clevenger developed new computational tools to sift through mountains of genetic information to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, in the peanut genome. These powerful genetic markers can be used to select for desirable traits, such as aflatoxin resistance, quickly and efficiently. Clevenger’s program, which he named “SWEEP,” may usher in a new era of genetic mapping for cultivated peanuts, and he has made the tool freely available to other researchers to hasten those advances.