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Meet Iago Hale, Associate Professor at UNH

Posted 03/05/24

If you have ever enjoyed one of our wines crafted from Kiwi Berries, (Meredith Bay White, or Passion Popper) then you will want to learn more about Iago Hale. He is New Hampshire’s Kiwi Berry champion. If Iago Hale has his way, you may be topping your breakfast cereal in a few years with a handful of fresh kiwi berries you bought at your local farmer’s market. That’s right, local kiwis in northern New England.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH, he’s currently screening nearly 200 different varieties of kiwiberries, putting them through the same paces a potential commercial grower would to assess their economic viability.

Join us this Monday to meet Iago and learn everything there is to know about the Kiwi Berry!

About Iago:

I am interested in the characterization, maintenance, and utilization of crop genetic diversity as means of enhancing small farm viability, rural livelihoods, food security, and ecosystem integrity. This is to say that my work in the fields of plant genetics and breeding (traditional and molecular) stems not from a basic but a decidedly applied research interest with significant socioeconomic and ecological implications. For me, crop improvement is fundamentally about increasing the options available to both growers and consumers within a context of dynamic market forces, increasing land-use pressures, and uncertain environmental factors.

Motivated by this larger framework, the research objectives of my integrated plant breeding and plant molecular genetics/genomics program are: 1) To increase agricultural opportunities in New England by developing and providing improved germplasm to producers; 2) To develop molecular markers and genetic resources to support my breeding work and that of the larger plant improvement community, particularly in developing countries; and 3) To contribute to our understanding of the genetic bases of key traits at various scales, from individual plants (e.g. disease resistance) to whole farm systems (e.g. weed suppression) to landscapes (e.g. nutrient uptake).

In the field, classical breeding methods remain necessary for the practical development and delivery of improved plant varieties. In the lab, trait dissection, gene mapping, gene characterization, and molecular marker development can provide valuable information and support to breeding efforts. The integration of these field and lab components in one program insures that my basic genetic research stays consistently grounded in real-world production and is pursued with a firm commitment toward deployment.

A variety of research opportunities for students are available in my lab (http://www.unh.edu/halelab); please contact me if you are interested in learning more.