Dan Chitwood, our newest professor, is our Spring Semester featured faculty.
April 3, 2018 - Author: Kristin Getter
Dr. Dan Chitwood grew up in Modesto, California; the center of the Central Valley’s agriculture industry, and here he became interested in agriculture and plant science. During his undergrad at UC Davis, he researched adaxial/abaxial polarity in plant development and spent a year after graduation working at E.J. Gallo winery. He obtained his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, NY, studying the morphological effect of small RNA in leaf patterning under the direction of Dr. Marja Timmermans. He then continued with a postdoc at UC Davis, applying a morphometrics approach to study the genetics of leaf shape and size in tomato in the lab of Dr. Neelima Sinha.
He began his career at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO, where he used persistent homology (a tool to analyze topological data) to quantify QTL traits for leaf thickness and branching architectures in tomato. The focus of Dan’s research program at MSU will center around plant morphological and topological data analysis. He will utilize an industrial X-Ray Computed Tomography scanner, which scans material at very high resolution. He will be working closely with faculty in the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) to create mathematical models to quantify and analyze the substantial morphological data from the CT scanner. With this approach, he hopes to alter the way plant scientists think about phenotyping.
In addition, he plans to set up an online interface of various plants to create visual illustrations for plant morphology. This is not only for researchers to visualize their data, he hopes to collaborate with existing resources at MSU such as the gardens and herbarium to establish an easy-access platform for the public to explore the diversity of plant morphology.