Wes Barber

I'm Wes Barber; I'm a first year student in the Plant Breeding Center at the University of Illinois. I work in Steve Moose's maize functional genomics lab. So after I graduated from Grinnell College, in Iowa, I pretty much had molecular biology experience, but being surrounded by corn, in Iowa, out in the middle of nowhere, in Central Iowa, it just seemed like, well, maybe I should go see what it's like working out in the field, instead of just spending my time in the lab. So I did an internship with Pioneer Hybrid in Princeton, Illinois, for eight months after I graduated. And that's when it all came together. I realized plant breeding just wasn't genetics; it just wasn't working out in the field. Right now it encompasses molecular biology, and genomics, and new sequencing tools. It's everything combined. And it's not just a plant breeder going and selecting a plant based on how it looks in the field anymore. There's a whole team working in other locations supplying them information. So that they have a better idea of what's going on inside that plant that they see in the field. So the big picture actually came together at a good time before I had to make a choice on where I went to graduate school. I chose University of Illinois because of its… I mean, to be honest, I chose because of Steve Moose and his history with maize genetics. Steve is unique in the sense that he's not a plant breeder; he's not just a plant biotechnologist; he's not just a genomicist He's bringing it all together. And it's really a place where I can get the training not just in quantitative genetics, or molecular genetics, or molecular biology, or genomics. I'm getting it all right now in my project. It just was a no-brainer. I looked at Wisconsin and Minnesota and then I came here and it was an easy choice. Ultimately, I'd like to lead a group of scientists in improving crops. Location really doesn't matter. I could see myself going anywhere in the world.

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