“Our field has changed dramatically from when I was growing up,” says Seth Polydore, Postdoctoral Associate in the Data Science Core Facility. “The important thing is that I keep growing as a scientist and building my skills. I want to latch myself on to the important projects that will have an impact on the world.” During Seth’s time at the Danforth Center, he has begun doing just that.

Since joining the Data Science team two years ago, Seth has collaborated with Toni Kutchan’s team to develop genetic and phenotypic resources for Camelina sativa, a potential biofuel crop and platform for producing other high-value compounds. “For a long time, Camelina has been underdeveloped as a potential crop species,” explains Seth. Camelina may not produce as much oil as other crops, but it makes up for it in many other ways. It produces lots of seeds under low water conditions, it grows well in sub-optimal soils, it can be used for animal feed, and it’s a novel source of industrial oil. “The research on Camelina is still preliminary, but we are generating resources that could be useful for future researchers,” says Seth.

“It has been an amazing project to work on, converting a plant into something that can be scientifically useful,” says Seth. “It has been really interesting to do all the steps from getting the DNA in these plants to looking for traits of interest.” As part of the project, Seth and the team evaluated various techniques to understand the Camelina genome. “Camelina has a complicated genome, so we had to be sure the results were the best they could possibly be,” explains Seth. Once the group has sufficient genetic data, they will look at phenotypic data to see if they can analyze hard-to-measure traits of interest with image-based methods.

“This project has given me lots of opportunities to grow as a scientist,” explains Seth. “Now I have practical experience with two different emerging fields, which will make me a more competitive scientist.”

Seth values the expertise of his teammates at the Center: “Working with other members of the Center is a cut above all the other collaborations I’ve ever had. It is a hands-on, open environment here.”

For more information:
Danforth Plant Science Center