Swaminathan Lab

Research Interest

Genomic solutions to sustainable agriculture

The Swaminathan Lab specializes in annual and perennial grasses, phenotyping and applications of genomics for plant customization and modification. In particular, the lab is interested in using genomics and biotechnology to understand nutrient use, carbon partitioning, and the role of the rhizome in resource reallocation and perenniality in plants. Projects include functional genomics research in sorghum, sugarcane and miscanthus.

The lab is part of the feedstock production research group for the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, to add value to bioenergy grasses, in which biofuels, bioproducts, high-value molecules, and foundation molecules for conversion are synthesized directly in plant stems.

In collaboration with the University of Illinois and Alabama A&M University, the lab is also working to accelerate miscanthus breeding by developing optimized, validated genomic selection tools to enable highly efficient selection of Miscanthus for yield, winter-hardiness, late flowering, and stem composition (quality).

Lab Members


Kankshita Swaminathan, PhD

Faculty Investigator

Mohammad Belaffif, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow

Belaffif provides expertise in the field of genomics and transcriptomics through the use of computational approaches in data management and analysis of biological data obtained through Next Generation sequencing approach. These data will allow us to better understand the underlying mechanism of phenotype/traits of interest for bioenergy crops.


Brandon James, PhD

Postdoctoral fellow

With a background in molecular biology computer science, his work is focused on understanding the genes involved flowering time and carbon partitioning in biofuel grasses such as miscanthus, sugarcane and sorghum.


Pradeep Hirannaiah, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Tony Trieu

Research associate III

Trieu brings his 23 years of expertise in agricultural biotechnology to the group and will lead the effort to develop biotechnology and synthetic biology tools and pipelines in miscanthus and sorghum. These pipelines will primarily be used to understand the role of genes underlying traits of interest for bioenergy in these grasses.


Shilpa Manjunatha

Research Associate II

Yokshitha Bathula

Research Associate II

David Draize

Plant Biotechnologist

Jason Bunn


Blake Dietz

Lab Assistant

Salema Myler

Lab Assistant

Farren Prasil


Rebekah Wood