James Schnable recognized for outstanding paper

James Schnable
October 22, 2020

Lincoln, Neb. —A paper by Dr. James Schnable, Agronomy & Horticulture, has been selected as the 2020 Outstanding Paper by The Plant Phenome Journal.

The article, “Functional Modeling of Plant Growth Dynamics,” deals with ways to use time series data collected from high throughput phenotyping facilities like UNL's automated greenhouses. The traits of a plant are not constant but change over time as the plant grows and develops. The UNL team developed a statistical approach to compare the patterns and speeds trait change between different crop varieties. This new approach means plants don't need to be measured as often and it is no longer to measure all the plants in an experiment at the same time, but instead researchers can measure different subsets of plants on different days. The innovation described in this paper means people can run bigger plant biology experiments with less effort by splitting experiments across days. The Plant Phenome Journal invited Dr Schnable to give a presentation on the core innovation of this paper and its implications for plant phenotyping and plant biology research which was recorded and is available online: YouTube.

The three authors of the paper were Dr. Yuhang Xu, Dr. Yumou Qiu, and Dr. James Schnable.

Dr. Xu earned his PhD in Statistics at Iowa State University in 2016 studying new statistical approaches to analyzing time series data from biological systems. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2016 to 2019. He currently is a professor of applied statistics and operations research at Bowling Green State University.

Dr. Qiu was an assistant professor of statistics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2014 to 2018. Dr. Qiu now works for Iowa State University as a professor of statistics. Dr. Schnable has been with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2014, initially as an assistant professor and since 2019 as an associate professor and Charles O. Gardner professor of Maize Quantitative Genetics. Dr. Schnable's research group focuses on integrating new technologies and capabilities from engineering, computer science, and statistics to address outstanding problems in corn and sorghum genetics. 

James Schnable is an Associate Professor and the Charles O. Gardner Professor of Maize Quantitative Genetics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to joining the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he was an NSF Plant Genome postdoc at the Danforth Center and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He earned his PhD in Plant Biology from UC-Berkeley in 2012 and his BA in Biology from Cornell in 2008. Today his research group focuses on integrating new technologies and capabilities from engineering, computer science, and statistics into maize and sorghum genetic and genomic research, currently supported by grants from the Department of Energy, USDA, and National Science Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research as well as the Nebraska Corn Growers. Prof. Schnable received the Marcus Rhoades Early Career Award for Maize Genetics in 2018, the North American Plant Phenotyping Network Early Career Award in 2019, and the American Society of Plant Biologists Early Career Award in 2019. Prof. Schnable has founded three companies focused on bioinformatics, plant breeding, and nutrient sensor technology. 

Dr. Schnable’s work with Dr. Yufeng Ge, an associate professor of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has also been featured in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Additional publications by Dr. Schnable and others can be found on the ARD website.