Returning to Iowa to Study the Evolution of Maize

Samantha SnodgrassThree days after graduating from Grinnell College, Samantha Snodgrass packed up her car and drove to Alaska. After her five-month internship as a botany technician, she wanted the chance to answer all the questions that kept popping up while collecting data for the Alaska Bureau of Land Management. That desire to do research, and outreach with it, led her back to Iowa, where she joined the Hufford Lab as a Ph.D. candidate.

As a major in the Plant Biology, Snodgrass will focus her dissertation research on single parent expression patterns in maize. Her research will expand on recent work that found certain subsets of genes following these expression patterns may support a classic model of heterosis in temperate maize, implying these patterns may have impacts on phenotype. Snodgrass intends to look at more genetically distant samples, such as temperate versus tropical inbreds.

"We've been studying [heterosis] for a hundred years, and we still don't know how it works. That is fascinating. And the fact that we can look at it with new tools, taking this classic genetics problem and looking at it through these new tools that weren't available or readily accessible 10 years ago, that is intriguing,” said Snodgrass.

Ultimately, Snodgrass hopes to become a professor.

"Basic research goes hand in hand with outreach and education. And the best way to do research and outreach is to be an educator. Especially in higher ed," she said.

When she’s not focused on her research, Snodgrass can be found tending to her first garden, knitting, crocheting, or attending meetings of the Central Iowa Orchid Society.