Our team

Diane R. Wang

Diane is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University in the Agronomy Department. She is originally from Beijing, though has lived primarily in the Northeast U.S. She completed her PhD in Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University where her work on rice genomics and diversity was carried out in the tropical fields of the Philippines at the International Rice Research Institute and the (equally hot and humid!) greenhouses of Ithaca, NY. Diane then joined a Geography Department for her post-doc at SUNY Buffalo where she focused on ecophysiological modeling. Her program at Purdue bridges genetics, physiology and process-based modeling to study emergent genotype by environment interactions, especially under abiotic stress such as drought. Outside of research, Diane enjoys sailing and trail running. 

Graduate students

Rachel Imel

Rachel is a Master’s student in the Agronomy Department. She is originally from Knightstown, Indiana and received her Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in Agronomy with a concentration in Crop and Soil Management. Her interests for her Master’s now focus on plant physiology and genetics in rice. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys hiking and taking care of her houseplants.

Luis Vargas

Luis is a PhD student in the Agronomy Department and carries out research with Davide Cammarano and Diane Wang of Purdue and Matthew Reynolds of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Program (CIMMYT) to link remote sensing and crop modeling. He is from a town located 100 km northeast of Mexico City, Mexico. Before he came to Purdue, he was with CIMMYT's Integrated Development Program. There, he worked with information communication technologies to contribute to the CIMMYT aims to develop nutritious, sustainable, and resilient food systems to improve health and enhance livelihoods. Luis enjoys being with his two children in his free time.

To-Chia Ting

To-Chia is a Ph.D. student in the Wang lab. She comes from Taiwan and completed her master’s and undergraduate programs in the Department of Forestry and Resource Conservation at National Taiwan University. To-Chia became aware of sustainable development from her undergraduate program and started to pay attention to topics surrounding food security. Her master’s thesis investigated flowering phenology of hazel and heather under warming in Germany. During this period, she became interested in plant ecophysiology. As a result, for her Ph.D. project, To-Chia would like to adapt methods in plant ecophysiology to crops, e.g. rice, to model and improve cultivars. In her free time, she likes to sing and go jogging.

Visiting scholars

Karla Miserendino

Karla is a visiting scholar from from Santa-Cruz, Bolivia. She majored in agricultural science and production at Zamorano University and completed a professional practice program in Pesticide and Application Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Karla works in her family business growing soybean, corn, sorghum, wheat, chia and quinoa. She is interested in the physiology of soybeans, their management and response to different treatments as well as genetic improvement and soil conservation. During her time at Purdue, Karla is evaluating two soybean panels in the field for physiological traits and assisting in other lab projects with the Wang Lab. She enjoys horseback riding. 

Undergraduate students

Makala Hammons

Makala is currently a junior studying Agronomy at Purdue while working as an undergraduate lab/research assistant the Wang Lab. She is from the small town of Cambridge City, Indiana. Her main interest in agronomy focuses around how soil conditions impact the growth and development of plants/crops. Outside of school, Makala serves as an Agronomy Ambassador and is a member of Sigma Alpha Sorority, and in her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar and listening to music. 

Emily Burns

Emily is a Natural Resources and Environmental Science major with a concentration in water quality and a minor in soil science. She is originally from Greenwood, IN and loves anything to do with the outdoors. 

Rae McDowell

Rae is a senior in Agronomy with a concentration in plant breeding, genetics, and biotechnology. She works as an undergraduate lab/research assistant in the Wang Lab and in the Rocheford lab. She is from north of Detroit, Michigan. She is interested in food security and nutrition which has manifested into an interest in biofortification research and international agriculture. When she is not in class or the lab, Rae likes to skate on her longboard and spend time with her cat Pickle.

Past members

Natalie Roth (undergraduate research asst.) - currently with USGS New England Water Science Center in Northborough, MA