Celeste M. Falcon

Ph.D. student, Applied Plant Sciences

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celesteCeleste Falcon wants to make better barley. Her research involves identifying useful genes and incorporating them into new varieties in order to improve barley’s nitrogen-use efficiency and winter hardiness.

Improving barley’s nitrogen-use efficiency would help mitigate the negative environmental and financial effects of the production and overuse of nitrogen fertilizers, she says. The genetics-based methods she uses could exploit cheaply available DNA sequence data to identify desirable genes and efficiently select the best plants from a population.

Falcon became interested in genetics before starting high school. “Through plant breeding research, I can apply this interest to benefit people and the environment,” she says. “Problem-solving in crop production requires not only knowledge and contributions from many disciplines but also collaboration among these different disciplines. Working with people in other fields of study helps me to think about the challenges we face from a broader perspective.”