Amanda M. Hulse-Kemp - PI (SY)

PhD - Texas A&M University, Genetics, 2015

I am a computational biologist with the United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service in the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Unit. I have a broad biology background specializing in genetics and then moved into working in the field of agriculture (primarily crop) systems. I have been involved in many collaborative groups developing the highest quality genomes available at thier time for multiple crops which enabled development of additional tools. Once these reference genomes are available we can initiate a broad range of revolutionary technologies. Helping breeding programs integrate the next best technology to speed up the process to identify important genes and make better products for stakeholdres and consumers is a passion.

Setting up a research group that is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary allows us to work on large scale problems across many commodities.

At the USDA ARS I hold a career scientist position as a Computational Biologist in the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Unit.

I have a USDA Assistant Professor appointment in the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Bioinformatics, and Genetics at North Carolina State University.

Google Scholar Profile

Postdoctoral Associates


Emily Delorean, PhD

PhD - Kansas State University

Emily is a NSF postdoctoral fellow in Amanda’s lab. In collaboration with William Rutter (USDA-ARS), they are leveraging de novo genome assemblies to study the genetic basis of the root-knot nematode virulence on chili peppers and correspondingly, the genetic resistance of chili peppers against root-knot nematodes. The goal of the work is to help us breed chili pepper varieties with durable genetic resistance to root-knot nematodes. Emily likes teaching, talking about science over beer or cupcakes, and kittens.


Heather Manching, PhD

PhD - University of Delaware; MS - UNC Wilmington

Heather is a postdoctoral scholar and Citrus Coordinator for the Breeding Insight OnRamp project. She has a Masters in Biology from The University of North Carolina in Wilmington and a Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Sciences from The University of Delaware. During her doctoral studies, she focused on the problem of maintaining yields despite challenges caused by population growth and climate change by incorporating novel genetic diversity in maize. By evaluating the genomic response to selection for flowering time in a maladapted, tropical population of maize (a potential source of genetic diversity) using approaches she developed for genotyping and assessing haplotype reconstruction in highly heterozygous populations, she contributed to knowledge needed to develop more efficient pre-breeding strategies for maladapted material. She hopes to apply what she has learned in her studies on the genetics in maize, to aid in the improvement of other agricultural commodities. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons and reading.


Keo Corak, PhD

PhD, MS - University of Wisconsin, Madison

Keo is a USDA/ORISE postdoctoral fellow with the USDA SCINet scientific computing initiative and is the Sugarcane Coordinator for the Breeding Insight OnRamp project. They hold a Masters in Agroecology and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Keo studies ways to make genetic resources of highly heterozygous crops, like carrot, more useful and accessible to breeders.

Graduate Students


Ashley Schoonmaker

Ashley is a Bioinformatics PhD student with Dr. Amanda Hulse-Kemp and Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis at North Carolina State University. Her primary area of research lies in the development of genetic tools for crop breeders and QTL analysis for resistance to diseases, which includes projects in cotton, St. Augustinegrasses and bermudagrasses.


Cassondra (Cassie) Newman

Cassondra is a Crop Science Ph.D. student, and is co-advised by Dr. Amanda Hulse-Kemp and Dr. Jeff Dunne. Her primary area of research is integrating genomics era tools into the North Carolina State University Virginia-Type peanut breeding program. To demonstrate the utility of genomic tools in peanut breeding, she is generating high-throughput genomic information and UAV phenotype information on a population of diverse peanut lines in order to better understand genetic resistance to the leaf spot foliar disease.


Grant Billings, MS

MS - Clemson University; BS - Michigan State University

Grant is a Bioinformatics Ph.D. student in the Hulse-Kemp Lab from Florence, South Carolina. His research interests are improving the usability of existing genomic resources and making accessible genome-based tools for upland cotton breeders. He hopes to combine his experience in field-based plant breeding, laboratory research, computational analysis, and genetics to assist breeders in their quest to discover better cotton through conventional breeding with a modern twist. In his free time, Grant likes to enjoy live music and experiment with food. Grant is currently supported by a Cotton Incorporated Fellowship.