BAE Departmental Seminar
Advanced Field Phenotyping technologies to improve crop breeding
David Lee, Lead Technologist, Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean VA and U.S.
Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency‐Energy (ARPA‐e)
Recent technological advancements have now made it possible to extract massive volumes of genetic,
physiological, and environmental data from certain crops. Building upon precision agriculture
innovations and data‐intensive computational approaches, the DOE/ARPA‐E Transportation Energy
Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program will accelerate plant breeding, using
automated high‐throughput precision phenotyping systems to quantify important agronomic traits in
the field throughout the entire lifecycle of an individual plant, and to associate these traits with their
genetic and genomic properties. TERRA is focused on energy sorghum as a target crop, and will provide
breeders with the ability to predict yield gains early, specifically to identify which genes can improve
carbon capture efficiency in newly cultivated bioenergy crops. Technologies developed under the
TERRA program are expected to be readily translated to other crops for both breeding and management
Dr. David Lee is a Lead Technologist with Booz Allen Hamilton, where he provides technical support to
the Advanced Research Projects Agency‐Energy (ARPA‐E) and helps manage its agri‐energy programs.
These include efforts to develop bioenergy feedstocks through metabolic engineering, field phenotyping
systems, and tools to improve biological carbon sequestration. Prior to his work with ARPA‐E, David was
the Director of Molecular Biology at Edenspace Systems Corporpation, where he led efforts to develop
enhanced feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels and phytoremediation, and an AAAS Science Policy Fellow at
the Environmental Protection Agency. He received his Ph.D. from UCSD in plant molecular biology.
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