Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee named as a Fulbright Specialist
The University’s Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee has been selected by the U.S. State Department to serve as a Fulbright Specialist during the upcoming summer.
Dr. Melmaiee, Associate Professor of Plant Breeding and Molecular Genetics in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has received the prestigious selection as a Fulbright Specialist on the strength of her accepted proposal “Genomics of Abiotic Stress Tolerance in Crop Plants.”
As a Fulbright Specialist, Dr. Melmaiee will take her 30 years of crop improvement research experience to Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in her native India from June 20 to July 15.
Dr. Melmaiee’s expertise will be well received. The Indian state of Tamil Nadu has eight drought-prone districts that cover an area of almost 834,000 square kilometers.
Drought, heat and salinity are the major abiotic stressors found to reduce crop productivity and present a challenge to global food security. Because such challenges are best addressed by breeding of crop plants that demonstrate a greater tolerance of such stresses, Dr. Melmaiee will share her knowledge on advancements of genomics and phenomics that lead to such breeding solutions with Tamil Nadu researchers, faculty and students.
That shared knowledge will then be applied to plant breeding programs at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University.
The crop improvement research by Dr. Melmaiee – who has been at Delaware State University since her post-doctorate arrival in 2008 – has involved various agriculture and horticulture crops, including rice, sorghum, bajra, sesame, beans, grasses, sugar maple, blueberry, and strawberry. “My projects have focused on improving traits that are tolerant to drought and high temperature stress, fruit rot diseases, as well as enable plants to stay green amid such stresses,” she said.
Prior to her arrival to DSU, Dr. Melmaiee was engaged in crop improvement research in her native India.
While in the past, Dr. Melmaiee has employed classical breeding techniques to generate new genotypes, with the advent of sequencing and bioinformatics tools, she is now also utilizing transcriptome information and Genome-Wide Association Mapping (GWAS) to identify candidate genes for high temperature stress tolerance.
The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at academic institutions abroad for a period of two to six weeks.