Paul L. Raymer (Ph.D, Professor)

Paul’s emphasis is placed on the development of improved cultivars of seashore paspalum, tall fescue, zoysiagrass, and creeping bentgrass for a range of fine-turf and environmental applications. Research areas include breeding methodology, herbicide resistance systems, genetics of salt tolerance and disease resistance traits, and development of molecular markers for important traits such as salt tolerance. He also teaches and undergraduate course in Research Methods and a graduate course, The Plant Breeding Practicum.


Zhenbang Chen (Ph.D, Research Scientist)

Chen directs the molecular genetics and tissue culture labs.  His program provides support to DNA fingerprinting of turfgrasses, development and applications of genetic markers used by the breeding program in marker assisted selection, and various research efforts that involved selection of traits while in tissue culture.


Mary Flynn (Administrative Associate I)

Mary provides clerical and editorial support for our program.

Lewayne White, Jr. (Research Professional II)

Lewayne supervises and coordinates all field, laboratory, and greenhouse research activities.  He has primary responsibility for field evaluations and vegetative increases associated with the breeding program.

Rodney Connell (Research Technician)

Rodney has primary responsibility for all greenhouse operations where he maintains and clonally propagates early generation breeding materials.

Daniel Nordstrom (Utility Worker II)

Daniel’s primary responsibility is to establish and maintain field research and our turfgrass breeding plots.  He also assists with other lab and greenhouse related research projects.

Graduate Students

Harshita Saxena  (Ph.D.)

Rust diseases caused by Puccinia spp. are commonly observed in various turfgrass species throughout the United States. The primary objective of my research involves the identification of resistance genes to stem and crown rust caused by Puccinia graminis and Puccinia coronata, respectively, in tall fescue, an important cool-season perennial turfgrass species in the United States. I will be utilizing conventional and modern plant breeding approaches for molecular mapping and QTL analysis of the rust-resistant genes. In addition to this, I am also exploring different and novel diseases prevalent on tall fescue in Georgia. With my expertise in bioinformatics and computational biology, I am studying the structural and functional attributes of the genes of Clarireedia species, the causal agent for dollar spot disease on turfgrasses. I will also be working on the physiological importance and occurrence of Magnaporthe oryzae causing gray leaf spot disease on oat and on various turfgrasses in Georgia.