Principal Investigator


Rex Bernardo has been on the faculty at the University of Minnesota since 2000. He obtained a B.S. degree in agriculture, majoring in plant breeding, at the Visayas State College of Agriculture in the Philippines in 1984. He graduated summa cum laude and worked in a national breeding program for sweet potato. In 1988 he obtained a Ph.D. degree in plant breeding at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to coming to Minnesota, Dr. Bernardo was a research scientist at Limagrain Genetics, Champaign, Illinois for 9 years and a faculty member at Purdue University for 3 years. He has been a visiting scientist at INRA in Gif-sur-Yvette, France; at Limagrain Europe in Riom, France; at Wageningen University in the Netherlands; at CIRAD in Montpellier, France; and at BOKU University near Vienna, Austria.

Professor Bernardo has served as an associate editor and a technical editor of Crop Science and as an editor of Theoretical and Applied Genetics. He received the Young Crop Scientist Award from the Crop Science Society of America in 1999; was elected Fellow of the Crop Science Society of America and of the American Society of Agronomy in 2005; and received the Plant Breeding Impact Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders in 2015.

Professor Bernardo’s top 5 strengths from StengthsFinders are Strategic, Belief, Learner, Responsibility, and Ideation. In his leisure time, Rex enjoys playing the acoustic guitar, taking his wife, Chona, on dates (usually a restaurant, swing dancing, or tandem biking), and hanging out with their six children.

Current Students and Postdocs


Nick Ames, who hails from Houston, is a Ph.D. student who is investigating genome x environment interaction in the context of genomewide selection in maize. He obtained his B.S. degree from Brigham Young University and M.S. degree from the University of Minnesota. When Nick isn’t busy thinking about genetics questions, he spends most of his time tinkering under the hood of his latest computer build.


Elizabeth Blissett grew up in Illinois, obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Illinois, then finally decided to go north. In her Ph.D. research, she is translating genomewide-selection findings from maize to asexually propagated, highly heterozygous Rosaceous species, particularly apple. Liz enjoys playing intramural sports, and learning to fish and kayak in some of Minnesota’s >10,000 lakes.


Sofia Brandariz obtained her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of the Republic in Uruguay. In her Ph.D. research, Sofi is investigating advanced aspects of genomewide selection, including the role of epistasis in genomewide predictions. Sofi likes spinning and outdoor activities (except when it’s too cold).

Emmanuel Adeyemo was born and raised in Nigeria. He holds a B.S. degree from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria, and his M.S. research is on the use of genomewide marker effects to predict genetic variance in biparental crosses. Emmanuel enjoys riding his bike throughout the Twin Cities (he bought a bike before learning to ride), playing soccer, and everything Barcelona F.C.

Sushan Ru grew up in Xinxiang, China. She obtained her B.S. degree from Southwest University in China, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Washington State University. Sushan’s postdoctoral work focuses on estimating genetic gains from prospective targeted recombination in self-pollinated crop species. Sushan’s research, husband, and active baby boy keep her busy, but not too busy for her to be also training as a yoga instructor on the side.