New faculty profile: Ramamurthy “Mali” Mahalingam studies abiotic stress in barley

Ramamurthy “Mali” Mahalingam joined the faculty in the Department of Agronomy as an assistant professor in October 2016.

Briefly describe your career path—up to this point.
I got my bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Bangalore, India. I did my master’s in agronomy at Clemson University in South Carolina. I received my PhD in genetics from Clemson University, and then went on to get my post-doctoral training at Penn State University working in the area of plant functional genomics. I was a faculty member for 12 years in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Oklahoma State University. During these 12 years I trained six post-doctoral fellows, three PhDs, four master’s and more than 25 undergraduate students in my laboratory. I joined the USDA Cereal Crops Research Unit in Madison in July 2015 and became a faculty member in the UW-Madison Department of Agronomy in October 2016.

What is the main focus of your research program?
My research program is focused on abiotic stress in barley and improving barley malt quality. We are examining heat, drought and the combined effects of heat and drought on barley plants and their impact on barley malt quality. This research encompasses genetics, genomics, stress physiology, biochemistry and informatics. In my previous employment, my laboratory used Arabidopsis, Medicago, soybeans, switchgrass and rice to examine oxidative signaling during abiotic stresses with a focus on ozone and drought.

What drew you to UW-Madison?
UW-Madison has a fantastic group of plant scientists who have gained international recognition in their research areas. The agronomy department and especially the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program at UW-Madison is very reputed, and I am very excited to be a part of it. Madison was appealing since it is both a university town as well as a vibrant city with lots of fun activities to do.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Reading, hiking, playing with my kids and traveling.

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