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PASS Faculty Member Loves Mentoring and Creating

Monday, January 24, 2022

Yanqi Wu’s primary responsibility at Oklahoma State University is to lead the OSU grass breeding and genetics research program. 


The program’s current research is focused on the development of new turfgrass cultivars. It also examines genetic and genomic research on important agronomic traits in bermudagrass for turf and forage and switchgrass for bioenergy. 


Wu, the Meibergen Family Professor in plant breeding, also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, advises graduate students and mentors undergraduate students.


Wu’s research is important, because bermudagrass and switchgrass are economically and environmentally important due to their roles in sustaining livestock, providing aesthetic and recreational benefits, controlling soil erosion, conserving water and providing lignocellulosic feedstock for bioenergy production. Turf bermudagrass cultivars he has developed have been used on NFL stadiums, college sports venues, more than 100 golf courses and the U.S. Capitol hill in Washington D.C., among many other locations across the nation.


“The OSU grass breeding and genetics research program has been a world-class program, and I knew that before I came to be a Ph.D. student at OSU in 2001,” Wu said. “My department, the Oklahoma Agricultural Research Station and our college are very supportive of my work, providing technicians, research facilities and funding. I feel passionate because our work is valuable to the state, the nation and the world.”


Wu obtained his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Ningxia University in China and his master’s degree in forage science from Sichuan Agricultural University in China. He also served as an assistant and associate professor at Sichuan Agricultural University from 1988 to 2000.


“Teaching is one of the most effective ways to work with students,” Wu said. “I always have the passion to interact with students in teaching and research. It is essential to train young people to be professionals who will continue our work in the future.”


Wu said his favorite part of his work is creating new cultivars that can meet or overcome major challenges in the turfgrass industry. 


“Our cultivars have improved cold hardiness, so their deployment and use in the turf industry literally helps consumers by reducing the risk of winterkill,” he said. “My favorite part currently is creating new cultivars that have been improved substantially with drought resistance.” 

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