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Plant Sciences Faculty Osorno and Li Promoted

Two Department of Plant Sciences faculty have been approved for promotions, effective July 1, 2021. Dr. Juan Osorno is being promoted to professor, and Dr. Xuehui Li is being promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure.

May 13, 2021

Two Department of Plant Sciences faculty have been approved for promotions, effective July 1, 2021. Dr. Juan Osorno is being promoted to professor, and Dr. Xuehui Li is being promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure.

Dr. Juan Osorno

Osorno earned his Ph.D. in Plant Sciences at North Dakota State University and was hired as an assistant professor in 2007, then promoted to associate professor in 2013. He leads the dry edible bean breeding program, which works to develop high yielding, high quality bean genotypes adapted to the Northern Great Plains. During his tenure, his program has developed and released 20 germplasm lines and cultivars, including 12 new dry edible bean varieties for North Dakota growers. In addition, he has published more than 50 articles about dry bean breeding and genetics. He was also part of a team that developed the first bean reference genome sequence, which is now used to improve common bean varieties worldwide. His collaboration with both local and international scientists has allowed him to map many genes related to traits of economic importance such as disease resistance, plant architecture, and flooding tolerance, among others. Besides the NDSU breeding program, Osorno also serves as an advisor to breeding programs in Guatemala, China, Zambia, Colombia, and others. 

In addition to the breeding project, Osorno mentors graduate students and has taught genetics to more than 1000 students during his career, some of whom have said they chose to focus on genetics or a related field after taking his class.  

In 2015, Osorno received the Bean Improvement Cooperative “Distinguished Achievement Award.” In 2017, he was awarded the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab “Early Career Grain Legume Scientist Award” and the NDSU Agriculture and Extension “Larson/Yaggie Excellence in Research Award.” More recently, he received the NDSU Ag Collective “George Washington Award,” a student-selected recognition, in 2021.

Dr. Xuehui Li

Li earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics at the University of Georgia and was hired at NDSU in 2014 as an assistant professor in statistical genomics. His research focuses on developing and implementing molecular breeding tools and methods, including gene discovery, genomics-assisted breeding, and low-cost marker genotyping platforms, to improve traits in wheat and other crops grown in the Northern Great Plains. 

One of his research projects uses a recurrent selection approach combined with genomics-assisted selection to integrate FHB resistant genes in wheat. From this project, he expects to continuously provide enhanced germplasm into the NDSU bread wheat and durum wheat breeding programs for FHB resistant cultivar development. He also works with breeders to implement genomic selection on grain yield and end-use quality traits in the NDSU wheat breeding programs. 

In addition to his research work, Li mentors graduate students and teaches courses in genomics and applied plant molecular breeding.

Author: Kamie Beeson, 
Editor: Karen Hertsgaard,

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