Maria G. Salas Fernandez, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Agronomy
Iowa State University
1126E Agronomy Hall
Ames, IA 50011
Tel: (515) 294-9563
Fax: (515) 294-8146

Education and Training
Argentine Catholic University, Argentina. Agricultural Production, Engineer, 1995.
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Plant Physiology, M.S., 1999.
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Plant Breeding and Genetics, Ph.D., 2008.

Research and Professional Experience
Associate Professor, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA (2015-present).
Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, IA (2008- 2015).
Graduate Research Assistant, Plant Breeding and Genetics Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (2003-2008).
Sorghum Breeder Junior, R&D Department, Nidera Semillas S.A., Argentina (2000- 2002).
Graduate research Assistant, Soil & Crop Science Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (1997-1999).
Regulatory Affairs Supervisor, R&D Department, American Cyanamid of Argentina, Argentina (1996-1997).

Synergistic Activities

  • Instructor of a required undergraduate course on Genetics, Agriculture and Biotechnology (Agron 320), Iowa State University, 2009-present.
  • Undergraduate advisor for Agronomy students, Iowa State University, 2008-present.
  • Member of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, 2011-2014.
  • Member of the R.F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding, Iowa State University, 2008- present.
  • Secretary, Vice-chair and Chair of the communications subcommittee of the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB), 2010-2013.
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Molecular Biotechnology Journal, 2008-present.

My research program is devoted to develop superior sorghum lines to be used as lignocellulosic feedstock for biofuel production and to discover genes/alleles associated with traits that confer superior biomass yield through the use of molecular and genomic technologies. The genetic knowledge generated in my research program will be applied to sorghum but could be utilized for the genetic improvement of other crops as well.

Sorghum was selected based on the genotypic and phenotypic variation of the species, and the high productivity potential as a biofuel source. Sorghum can be used to produce ethanol from grain, stover, sugars accumulated in the stems (sweet sorghums) or as a dedicated lignocellulosic biomass crop (particularly photoperiod-sensitive types). The sorghum breeding program at ISU includes all sorghum types and uses described above, prioritizing photoperiod-sensitive materials and sweet sorghums.

yield trial tall sorghum