Kankshita Swaminathan awarded unique grant to study Miscanthus


September 9, 2020 (Huntsville, Ala) – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s Faculty Investigator Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD, received a unique grant to support her research on the ornamental grass Miscanthus. Instead of a more traditional monetary award, this grant provides invaluable access to laboratory equipment and services that are not available in most common labs. 

Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD

The award is part of the Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) program which encourages and enables researchers to more easily access the expertise and capabilities of multiple user facilities for their research. For example, as a part of her award, Swaminathan will have access to facilities at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) to leverage their knowledge and equipment such as laser capture microdissection, proteomics, and transcriptomics to advance her project.  

In her FICUS proposal, Swaminathan focuses on miscanthus, a perennial grass that her lab studies for its utility as a bioenergy source. While it is a promising candidate for bioenergy, its inability to self-pollinate hinders traditional directed breeding of low-cost types needed for industry. Swaminathan’s FICUS project, entitled “Characterization of Self-Incompatibility in the Bioenergy Grass Miscanthus,”, aims to develop genetic markers that will enable breeders to genotype a line for self-incompatibility groups and plan their breeding strategies for successful cultivar development. 

Read more about the 2021 FICUS Award recipients here.