About Us

Meet our Team

Our multidisciplinary team of specialists is making high-tech breeding a reality for specialty crop and animal breeders.

USDA-ARS

Ed Buckler

Ed Buckler

Principal Investigator

Jean-Luc Jannink

Jean-Luc Jannink

Co-Principal Investigator

Tim Rinehart

Tim Rinehart

Office of National Programs

Amanda Hulse-Kemp

Amanda Hulse-Kemp

BI OnRamp Director

Cornell University

Moira Sheehan headshot

Moira Sheehan

Director

Dr. Moira Sheehan joined Breeding Insight as the Director shortly after its inception in 2018. She received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from Cornell University in Tom Brutnell’s lab on light signaling pathways in maize and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Tech. She received a USDA-ARS postdoctoral fellowship to study meiotic pairing in maize for three years in Dr. Wojtek Pawlowski’s lab in Plant Breeding at Cornell University. At the end of that grant, she took a Research Assistant postdoctoral position in Dr. Ed Buckler IV’s lab at Cornell University studying maize plant height QTLs, biofuel grass genomics, and aberrations in polyploidy. After these two postdoctoral appointments, she went on to work for Nature Source Improved Plants (previously Nature Source Genetics) as a Research Scientist and Project Manager for nine years. In that time, she worked with 12 different crops to help major and small seed companies optimize their breeding pipelines. Moira’s expertise is in molecular breeding, polyploidy, specialty crop breeding, technology transfer, project management, and breaking things to make something better.

Moira Sheehan

Director

Craig Beil

Breeding Team Lead

Craig Beil, PhD has worked in plant breeding for the last 10 years. He joined Breeding Insight in June 2021. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Agronomy from Truman State University, a Master’s degree in Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in Wheat Breeding from Colorado State University. Craig worked in industry, breeding tropical papaya (Carica papaya) and semi-tropical castor (Ricinus communis) for southern and northern Mexico, respectively. Craig is particularly interested in how genetic diversity can best be used in a regional breeding program and how germplasm exchange between programs can be enhanced and best utilized to make genetic gains.

Craig Beil

Breeding Team Lead

Sam Bouabane

Lead Developer

Headshot, Kirsten Richardson

Kirsten Richardson

Program Manager

Shawn Yarnes headshot

Shawn Yarnes

Product Owner

Shawn Yarnes is Breeding Insight’s Product Owner. Her primary role is as a business analysis, identifying and prioritizing requirements for Breeding Insight’s DeltaBreed software. Shawn holds a PhD in Molecular Biology and has been involved in numerous plant breeding and research projects. For the past decade she has worked to support plant breeders with software solutions. She lives in California with her husband, two sons, and various pets.

Shawn Yarnes

Product Owner

Kristen Lind

Training & Communications Lead

Kristen joined Breeding Insight in September of 2023. She is a trained educator with a Master’s degree in education from New England College and a Bachelor’s degree from Alfred University with a major in psychology. She has worked with people across all ages, in a variety of professional roles, and has immense knowledge of human learning and development. She has a passion for teaching and education and is excited to bring that to Breeding Insight. Kristen previously worked in the public school system as a teacher, at Ithaca College as a health promotion specialist, and at Tompkins County as a senior caseworker in the Adult Services unit. In the Training and Communications Lead role, she uses her knowledge of human development and education to assist USDA-ARS breeding programs reach their breeding program goals in the most efficient and beneficial way possible.

Kristen Lind

Training and Communication Lead

Kristina Petrillose

Program Support Specialist

Arlyn Ackerman

Plant Breeding Coordinator

Arlyn (AJ) Ackerman has worked with a number of different specialty and commodity crops across a range of breeding programs. AJ has utilized his multi-crop experience to cross-cut concepts across various crops and breeding schemes dating back to his Ph.D. research at Clemson University. Growing up on a farm in the Midwest, AJ has worked in both start-up breeding companies and across various branches of Monsanto (now Bayer). Additionally, AJ has trained under breeders facing the unique challenges involved in building a breeding program from the ground up, as well as breeders implementing innovative changes in recently inherited programs. AJ’s research and interests have revolved around implementing cutting-edge technologies into modern breeding programs. These focuses include the integration of phenotyping and AI-driven tools into breeding programs and measuring the benefits or consequences these changes have on genomic-assisted breeding pipelines, building disruptive approaches to designing breeding trials and speed breeding, and effectively integrating genomic-driven strategies into breeding schemes.

Arlyn Ackerman

Plant Breeding Coordinator

Bhoja Basnet

Breeding Data Coordinator

Bhoja joined Breeding Insight in June 2024 as the Breeding Data Coordinator. He holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Plant Sciences from South Dakota State University. Bhoja brings over a decade of experience in applied crop breeding and variety development. His career includes significant roles such as Breeder for Bread Wheat Improvement and Lead Breeder for the Hybrid Wheat Program at CIMMYT, Mexico. Bhoja has made significant contributions to understanding the genetic basis, discovery, and deployment of disease resistance in wheat, particularly durable rust resistance. Known for his expertise in breeding process improvement, data management, genomic prediction, and product development, Bhoja has played a key role in developing advanced wheat germplasm and hybrid wheat production systems. Additionally, as a Breeding Optimization Specialist for the Accelerated Breeding Initiative / Excellence in
Breeding (EiB) platform at CGIAR, he coordinated efforts in aligning breeding targets, optimizing breeding schemes, and using advanced tools to enhance genetic gains across various crop breeding programs.

Bhoja Basnet

Breeding Data Coordinator

headshot of Alexandra M Casa

Alexandra M. Casa

Breeding Data Curator

Alex joined Breeding Insight in October of 2022. She grew up in Brazil where she obtained her BS. in Agronomy and MSc. in Genetics. She then moved to the US to pursue her PhD at Cornell University where she graduated with a major in Plant Genetics and a minor in International Agriculture. At Breeding Insight, Alex is eager to apply her technical and managerial skills to advance breeding goals and to train breeders and researchers on BI’s latest tools and technologies. She lives in sunny -- sometimes stormy -- Florida where she enjoys gardening and spending time with her spouse and their two cats.

Alexandra M Casa

Breeding Data Curator

Shufen Chen

Bioinformatics Postdoc

Shufen, who joined Breeding Insight in August 2023 as a bioinformatics post-doc, completed her Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo with a focus on genomic-assisted breeding for Larix. Her primary research methodologies centered around genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and genomic prediction. Currently, she is actively engaged in various projects at Breeding Insight. Her responsibilities span across tasks such as constructing linkage maps, performing QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci) analysis, conducting genome-wide association studies, and utilizing genomic prediction methodologies, across different species. She is interested in applying these techniques to explore the genetic intricacies of traits in different species, and excited to contribute her knowledge and skills at Breeding Insight for assisting various breeding programs achieve their goals.

Shufen Chen

Bioinformatics Postdoc

Josue Chincilla-Vargas

Animal Breeding Coordinator

Josue has been a part of Breeding Insight since August 2023. He has a BSc in Agricultural Production from Zamorano University in Honduras and a MSc and PhD from Iowa State University where he was trained in animal breeding and genetics. Josue has research experience with multiple species including fish, cattle and goats as well as extension experience working with swine producers to maximize the efficiency of their genetic programs. As the animal breeding coordinator, Josue assists USDA-ARS breeders implementing new technologies and methodologies to increase the rate of genetic gains in their programs. He also functions as a project manager coordinating assets within the Breeding Insight team to tackle the challenges USDA-ARS breeders face.

Josue Chinchilla-Vargas

Animal Breeding Coordinator

Headshot, Rebecca Cubitt

Rebecca Cubitt

Breeding Support Specialist

headshot of Meng Lin

Meng Lin

Bioinformatics Coordinator

Meng joined Breeding Insight as Bioinformatics Coordinator in January of 2022. She was trained as a geneticist with a Ph.D. degree in Kansas State University. Before joining Breeding Insight, she worked with wheat and maize physiological and metabolic traits and gained skills for integrated quantitative genetic analysis. She has a passion for accelerating plant breeding using genomic and genetic tools. At Breeding Insight, she aims at developing mid-density genotyping panels, conducting association analysis, and assisting breeders in expediting the breeding process by implementing marker-assisted selection and genomic prediction for both diploid and polyploid species.

Meng Lin

Bioinformatics Coordinator

Edwin Reidel

Phenomics Coordinator

Edwin Reidel was inspired to study plants after landing a undergraduate Work-Study job in the UC Davis Horticulture Department. He eventually earned a MS in Horticulture & Agronomy -- also at UC Davis, followed by a PhD emphasizing plant physiology and molecular biology at Cornell University. After a stint in seed production research, Edwin migrated to business development roles for over a decade, gaining further expertise in technologies for measuring plants. Some career highlights include performing breeding crosses resulting in the release of new walnut varieties, solving a problem in onion seed processing that was costing millions annually in losses, winning a contract for the world's largest outdoor plant phenotyping system, and helping to launch a software startup focused on drone image analysis in breeding. He enjoys Nordic skiing and running ultramarathons for fun in the Pacific Northwest.

Edwin Reidel

Phenomics Coordinator

Alex Sandercock

Genomics Postdoc

Alex joined Breeding Insight in June 2023. He holds a PhD in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Millersville University. In his graduate work, he evaluated the landscape genomics of natural and breeding populations of American chestnut trees in North America to develop germplasm conservation and breeding plans for the species to mitigate the impacts of climate change. In his role with Breeding Insight, he collaborates with USDA-ARS breeders and team members to apply genomics and bioinformatics methods to existing plant and animal breeding programs. His skills include developing custom bioinformatic pipelines, evaluating the genomic basis of local adaptation in populations, and analyzing population genomics in both diploid and polyploid species. Driven by a passion for using genomics to mitigate the impacts of climate change on susceptible species, he brings valuable expertise to the Breeding Insight team, ensuring the efficient and beneficial realization of USDA-ARS breeding program goals.

Alex Sandercock

Genomics Postdoc

Manoj Sapkota

Genomics Postdoc

Manoj is a dedicated researcher currently serving as a Genomics Postdoctoral Associate at Breeding Insight, Cornell University. He earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics from the University of Georgia (UGA), where his research focused on unraveling the genetic basis of fruit flavor volatiles in tomatoes. Manoj also holds a B.S. in Agriculture from Tribhuvan University, Nepal, with a major in Plant Breeding. At Breeding Insight, Manoj actively collaborates with USDA breeders on diverse projects, delving into genetic diversity exploration, QTL mapping, GWAS, and genomic selections for specialty crops like alfalfa, lettuce, blueberry, and cucumber. Proficient in genomic and bioinformatics analysis, he excels in developing efficient breeding strategies. His skill set encompasses marker-assisted selection, gene editing, cloning, and other cutting-edge techniques, significantly contributing to the progress of plant breeding technologies.
Beyond his research endeavors, Manoj engages actively in campus and community activities. His leadership experience includes serving as the President of the Nepalese Students Association at UGA and participating as a member of the Postdoctoral Association at Cornell University. This involvement underscores his commitment to fostering a collaborative and vibrant academic community.
Manoj's dedication to advancing plant breeding agricultural science makes him a valuable asset to Breeding Insight and the broader research community. In his free time, Manoj enjoys traveling, adding a dynamic dimension to his life. For more information, you can explore his professional journey on his personal website (https://manoj34sapkota.github.io/).

Manoj Sapkota

Genomics Postdoc

Tyler Slonecki headshot

Tyler Slonecki

Biosoftware Coordinator

Tyler joined Breeding Insight in April 2023. He obtained a BS in Mathematics and BA in Biology from Wofford College and a PhD in Bioengineering from Clemson University where he worked in the Clemson Light Imaging Facility. His graduate research focused on extracellular vesicles and model systems for early cancer detection and diagnosis. After earning his doctorate, Tyler took on the role of Research Computational Biologist Postdoc with the USDA Agricultural Research Service sweetpotato breeding program in Charleston, SC. Here he focused on automated detection of insect damage on sweetpotato roots, genetic diversity and population structure of sweetpotato germplasm, and sustainable approaches to pest management in vegetable crops. At Breeding Insight, Tyler plays an important role in developing software tools that enable breeders to access and analyze phenotypic and genotypic data efficiently and effectively. In his spare time, he enjoys going for walks, biking, gardening, and playing games of any kind.

Tyler Slonecki

Biosoftware Coordinator

Coming Soon

Genomics Coordinator

Xuemei Tang

Breeding Data Curator

Xuemei joined Breeding Insight on November 7th 2022. She received a master’s degree of Horticulture & Agronomy from China Agricultural University and a master’s degree in computer science from Texas A &M. Before joining Breeding Insight, Xuemei worked at Nature Source Improved Plants as senior data analyst for 15 years, specializing in QTL analysis and constructing genetic maps. At Breeding Insight, she is involved in building genetic maps and doing QTL analysis for diploid and polyploid species. In her free time, Xuemei enjoys hiking, exploring national park, learning about different cultures and traditions around the world.

Xuemei Tang

Breeding Data Coordinator

Headshot, Tyr Weisner Hanks

Tyr Wiesner-Hanks

Biometrics Coordinator

Tyr joined Breeding Insight in February 2023 as its Biometrics Coordinator. He obtained his BA in Biology from Northwestern University and his PhD in Plant Breeding & Genetics from Cornell University, where he studied disease resistance in maize and developed machine learning models for plant disease detection from aerial photos. After graduating from Cornell in 2019, he worked for four years as the Oat Breeder for PepsiCo/Quaker Oats. In his time running North America’s largest (and newest) oat breeding program, he created the program’s first genomic selection pipeline, oversaw its first seed certification, and redesigned its breeding scheme to bring varieties to commercial trials two years faster.
As BI’s Biometrics Coordinator, he works on a range of projects related to phenotype capture and analysis, helping breeders measure their key traits as quickly and correctly as possible.

Tyr Wiesner-Hanks

Biometrics Coordinator

Dongyan Zhao

Genomics Lead

Dongyan joined Breeding Insight in April of 2019. She is a trained plant geneticist and genomicist with a Ph.D. degree in Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology from Michigan State University. Her expertise includes comparative genomics in rice and maize, small transferring RNAs in blueberry and cherry, genome assembly and annotation of Camptotheca, and research on various species from the Lamiaceae family, including teak. Since joining Breeding Insight, Dongyan has spearheaded the development of mid-density genotyping panels for blueberry, alfalfa, sweetpotato, and salmon, facilitating routine genotyping for breeders of these specialty species. In her role as Genomics Lead, she leverages her expertise in genomics and genetics to assist USDA-ARS breeding programs in adopting genomics and informatics for efficient genetic gain.

Dongyan Zhao

Genomics Lead

headshot of Dave Meidlinger

David Meidlinger

Software Developer

Shahana Mustafa

Quality Assurance Analyst

Shahana joined the BI Software Development team as a Quality Assurance Analyst. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and has over 10 years of experience as a QA analyst, working in industries such as healthcare, finance, and telecommunications. Her primary responsibility at BI is to ensure that the software developed by the team meets all the requirements and adheres to the highest quality standards. Additionally, she is responsible for detecting any bugs in the application and ensuring that no new ones are introduced during the development process. She works from her home in Long Island, NY, and is entirely remote.

Shahana Mustafa

Quality Assurance Specialist

Nick Palladino headshot

Nick Palladino

Software Developer

Headshot, Dave Phillips

Dave Phillips

Software Developer

Heather Sweeney headshot

Heather Sweeney

Software Developer

Since joining Breeding Insight in May 2021, Heather has worked as an Application Programmer. She has a foundation in both programming and life sciences with a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Molecular Biology and Computer Science from MIT. Prior to BI, she worked as a software developer at Intersystems, creating tools to facilitate recording data for a hospital laboratory information system. She brings this experience to the realm of plant breeding, collaborating with developers and scientists on the DeltaBreed platform.

Heather Sweeney

Software Developer

Technical Steering Board

Ed Buckler

Gina Brown-Guedira

Pete Cyr

Scott Jackson

Jean-Luc Jannink

Steve Larson

Tim Rinehart

Steve Rounsley

Moira Sheehan

Phil Simon

Allen Van Deynze

Margaret Worthington

Tim Parsons headshot

Tim Parsons

Stephen Kresovich

Careers

Species aren’t the only thing we’re breeding at Breeding Insight. We are also expanding our dynamic, multidisciplinary team of specialists.