Susan McCouch

Susan McCouch

Professor

162 Emerson Hall
(607) 255-0420

Susan McCouch is a Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Plant Biology, Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University. She received her PhD from Cornell in 1990 and spent 5 years with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines before joining the Cornell faculty in 1995. Her research focuses on rice and includes publication of the first molecular map of the rice genome in 1988, early QTL studies on disease resistance, drought tolerance, maturity and yield, cloning of genes underlying domestication traits, and demonstrating that low-yielding wild and exotic Oryza species harbor genes that can enhance the performance of modern, high-yielding cultivars. Recently, she has used genome wide association studies (GWAS) to demonstrate that the different subpopulations of O. sativa have significantly different genetic architecture underlying complex trait variation, providing new insights into the genetic basis of transgressive variation, and supporting an ancient divergence between cultivated groups. She has trained scores of young scientists throughout the world, was recently elected a fellow of the AAAS and has received numerous research, teaching and faculty awards.

Research Focus

Susan McCouch is a Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics and of Plant Biology at Cornell University. She received her PhD from Cornell in 1990 and spent 5 years with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines before joining the Cornell faculty in 1995. Her research focuses on rice and includes publication of the first molecular map of the rice genome in 1988, early QTL studies on disease resistance, drought tolerance, maturity and yield, development of the essential repertoire of SSR markers widely used as a genomic resource in rice genetics and breeding, cloning of genes underlying critical traits for rice improvement and studies on the evolutionary history of rice in both Africa and Asia. Her current work focuses on the identification and characterization of genes and quantitative trait loci (QTL) from low-yielding wild and exotic Oryza species that enhance the performance of modern rice cultivars. She has trained scores of young scientists throughout the world and was recently elected a fellow of the AAAS and has received numerous teaching and faculty awards.

Current work focuses on using genome-wide association mapping to dissect the genetics of complex traits and to unravel the genetic basis of trangressive variation in rice.

Interests include understanding the process of rice domestication, examining how rice diversity is partitioned genetically and distributed geographically, and developing new strategies for recombining genes and quantitative trait loci (QTL) to enhance plant performance in agriculture.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Teaching hands-on laboratories in plant molecular biology global food production in the Homer, Groton and Cortland high schools each spring. The objectives of this program are
• To reach out to high school students and teachers in the US to promote an interest science and biology, particularly from under-represented minorities or under-resourced communities
• To develop a laboratory-based program in plant molecular genetics to enrich the biology curriculum in local area high schools in mid and upstate New York
• To offer every student from participating high schools an opportunity to understand current molecular genetics technology within the Living Environment curriculum required of each student before graduation from High School

Awards and Honors

  • Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities (2012)

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Clark, R. T., Famoso, A. N., Zhao, K., Shaff, J., Craft, E., Bustamante, C. D., McCouch, S. R., Aneshansley, D. J., & Kochian, L. V. (2013). High-throughput 2D root system phenotyping platform facilitates genetic analysis of root growth and development. . Plant, Cell and Environment. 36:454-466.
  • Clark, R. T., MacCurdy, R. B., Jung, J. K., Shaff, J. K., McCouch, S. R., Aneshansley, D. J., & Kochian, L. V. (2011). Three-Dimensional Root Phenotyping with a Novel Imaging and Software Platform. Plant Physiology. 156:455-465.

Book Chapters

  • McCouch, S. R., Wing, R. A., Semon, M., Venuprasad, R., Atlin, G., Sorrells, M. E., & Jannink, J. (2011). Making rice genomics work for Africa. Realizing Africa’s rice promise. CABI, Wallingford, UK