About Jeremy Schmutz
Whole genome sequencing and assembly, population genomics
Location: 601 Genome Way, Huntsville, AL 35806
Jeremy Schmutz sees genomic science as the thread that weaves together all of the varied disciplines of modern scientific research.
In his work at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Schmutz co-directs the Genome Sequencing Center with Jane Grimwood, PhD. Together, they manage one of the few centers in the world that produces, analyzes and interprets genomic data on economically important plant and organism species to improve crop breeding and other agricultural practices.
“We have an enormous opportunity to significantly improve the current state of humanity,” Schmutz says, “by better understanding a plant’s biology and their interactions with the environment.”
But Schmutz also likes to step back and look at how his work fits into the broader picture. The projects he works on in the GSC often involve a broad range of scientists from across the country. Some collect samples in the field in Oregon, some grow field trials on farmland in Oklahoma and others performing controlled experiments in a lab in San Francisco.
“Before genomics,” Schmutz says, “we all would have been separate disciplines, but now we’re one big mashed together discipline that’s centered around finding the real answers of how biology and how life works. DNA binds all of these fields of study together.”
Schmutz got an early start on what would eventually lead to a career analyzing genomic data. He began programming computers when he was five years old. Schmutz graduated from North Central College in Naperville, Ill., in three years with a bachelor of science in computer science and a bachelor of arts in biology. During college he worked on DNA sequencing technology at Argonne National Laboratory that led to his first research position developing parallel sequencing systems at a small silicon valley startup company. In 1996, Schmutz joined Richard Myers, PhD, at the Human Genome Project, and he came to HudsonAlpha in 2008.