Seed World

How a Texas College Football Rivalry Made Sarah Jones Want to be a Plant Breeder


Sarah Jones is a PhD student in Plant Breeding in the Soynomics group at Iowa State University and a 2022 National Association of Plant Breeders Borlaug Scholar.

Studying with Dr. Danny Singh, she researches phenotyping strategies to improve drought tolerance in soybean.

Her love for plant breeding came from some unlikely places.

“I have an identical twin sister. She’s a veterinarian. So we like to joke that she’s the animal doctor and I’m the soon-to-be plant doctor,” Jones says.

Oh, and her love of plant breeding can be traced back to a carrot and a Texas college football rivalry.

“In a grocery store I discovered the maroon carrot that a plant breeder at Texas A&M had developed. I grew up in a Texas Aggie football family. We were very strongly in favor of the Aggies and we love maroon and we thought it was hilarious that a Texas breeder got rid of the orange like the Longhorn orange color in a carrot. We thought it was pretty great,” she laughs.

For those who don’t know, the Texas Aggies and Longhorns are two of the main football teams in Texas. The Aggies colors are maroon, the Longhorns orange.

“And so it just came back to that maroon carrot and the football rivalry. The Aggies got the best of the Longhorns by developing the maroon carrot. I didn’t know that there was so much diversity in plants because I was so used to seeing orange carrots and then the fact that a maroon carrot showed up and it was something I had never seen. That’s where it all started.”