Seed World

Cassie Newman on Why There’s More to Peanuts Than You Think


Plant breeding student Cassie Newman specializes in peanut breeding. She’s a third year PhD student at North Carolina State University, where she directly integrated new genomic and phenomic technologies into a peanut breeding program which previously used only phenotypic recurrent selection for cultivar development. 

Her project culminates in a genome wide association study where resistance to a devastating foliar disease, leaf spot, will be analyzed using the genomic and phenomic tools she developed. 

She sat down with Marc Zienkiewicz at the recent meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders in Ames, Iowa, to talk about her work in the fascinating world of peanuts and what drives her to be a prolific student.

“I would describe myself as a renaissance woman. I really love picking up new hobbies, new activities outside of my career. One of the ones that I’ve been focused on recently is quilting, so making large quilts and, and giving them to family members and friends,” she says.

“I think my mind gravitates to more detail-oriented projects, whether that be academically or in my free time. So that’s definitely true for quilting. I like that. It’s a very visual hobby, as well as it’s practical and can be actually used by people. So that’s definitely something that draws me to it.”