HudsonAlpha welcomes new faculty investigator

Plant genomics researcher joins the Institute

Huntsville, Ala. — HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology today announced the appointment of plant researcher Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD, to its faculty. Swaminathan studies the role of the rhizome – modified underground stems – in nutrient storage and reproduction in plants like silvergrass and sugarcane. Her research interest is in how those plants, which are perennials, remobilize nutrients year after year, thereby reducing the amount of outside fertilizer and outside nutrients that have to be applied.

“HudsonAlpha is one of the few institutes that tackles the sequencing and analysis of complex genomes,” Swaminathan said. “A lot of plant genomes, including those of many crops, are large and unwieldy, so I’m looking forward to working with a group that has extensive expertise in dealing with them.”

The newest HudsonAlpha faculty member expands the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (GSC), led by faculty investigators Jeremy Schmutz and Jane Grimwood, PhD. Swaminathan’s silvergrass and sugarcane research expands GSC projects involving other perennial grass plants like sorghum and switchgrass. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other industry and philanthropic collaborations, the GSC will continue research related to improving biomass yield for biofuels and building a foundation for further genomic and functional research in plants, fungi, algae and model organisms.

“We’re excited to welcome Dr. Swaminathan to our HudsonAlpha faculty,” said Richard M. Myers, PhD, president, science director and faculty investigator at the Institute. “She brings great experience to our already strong plant research program in the Genome Sequencing Center.”

Prior to joining HudsonAlpha, Swaminathan was a research specialist in feedstock genomics at the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois in Urbana. She earned her PhD in biology from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.

About the Genome Sequencing Center: The Genome Sequencing Center (GSC) produces, analyzes and interprets genomic data on economically important species to improve crop breeding and other agricultural practices. Co-directed by Jane Grimwood, PhD, and Jeremy Schmutz, the GSC is one of the few centers in the world performing de novo sequencing of complex plant genomes. The center has sequenced over 100 species and is focused on genomes related to food production and renewable biofuel research. Research at the GSC in the field of bioenergy supports initiatives related to clean energy generation, improving biomass yield and the efficiencies of processes used to convert plant materials into liquid fuels. The center is building a foundation for further genomic and functional research in plants, fungi, algae and model organisms. To learn more about the GSC, visit:

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Founded in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and includes 32 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit:

Media Contact:
Margetta Thomas