Dr. Robert VanBuren's history of working with drought led him to target improvements in crops
Dr. VanBuren and his team utilizes crop genetics and conventional breeding approaches to improve crop quality.
Dr. Robert VanBuren started his education at Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied biotechnology. In 2014 completed his Ph.D with Ray Ming at University of Illinois studying the evolution of sex chromosomes in papaya. In his postdoc, he worked with drought, the most pervasive issue in agriculture.
Prior to joining the faculty at MSU in 2016, he was an NSF plant genome postdoctoral fellow at The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center with Todd Mockler. At the Danforth Center, he worked on the evolution of drought induced CAM photosynthesis.
The VanBuren lab applies an integrative genomic, quantitative genetics, and evolutionary approach to understand the genetic basis of natural adaptations in plants for targeted crop improvement. This work centers on the evolution of CAM photosynthesis and extreme desiccation tolerance in resurrection plants. They also use more conventional marker assisted breeding coupled with systems biology approaches to improve drought tolerance of underutilized crop species. Their ongoing work centers around establishing genetic and genomic resources for the orphan grain crops teff and finger millet to improving yield, stress tolerance, and forage potential.