Researcher biography

Dr. Sukumaran is an experienced researcher with expertise in fundamental and applied research and breeding. He holds PhD in Agronomy (Plant Breeding and Genetics) from Kanasas State University, USA, Master of Science in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kerala Agricultural University, India. After his PhD, Dr. Sukumaran worked at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico as post-doc, Associate Scientist, and Scientist & Lead of spring wheat pre-breeding from 2013 to 2021. His career focussed on developing improved spring wheat germplasm for the national breeding programs of several countries through utilizing the genetic resources at the CIMMYT's gene bank through physiological pre-breeding, genetic dissection of complex traits, and molecular breeding.

Current Research: Tillering is a crucial trait that influence grain yield under water limited conditions in the sorghum belt of Australia. The investigations into tiller dynamics in sorghum has the ultimate goal to understand shoot branching in sorghum, identify genetic and physiological mechanisms governing tillering, and to predict the tiller number across different genotype, environment, and management (GxExM) scenarios. Utilizing methodologies such as (1) genome to phenome - analysis of large scale genomics data, comparative genomics, pan-genome, gene enrichment, gene duplication analysis - and (2) phenome to genome - screening of large scale diversity panels, divergent selection experiments, nested association mapping (NAM), genome-wide association mapping (GWAS), and linakge mapping (QTLs), Dr. Sukumaran's work aims to advance the understanding of sorghum tillering to improve resource use efficiency. This project is supported by ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture.

Previous Research: As a spring wheat pre-breeder and geneticist at International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico, Dr. Sukumaran developed high yielding, drought and heat stress tolerant spring wheat lines under the umbrella of MasAgro (MasAgro), International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) and Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC) consortiums. These lines played a role in elite breeding programs in developing countries as parents of new varieties and were also selected as direct releases in some countries. His applied research, featured in over 35 journal articles and 7 book chapters, aimed to address strategies for enhancing yield potential and resilience to drought and heat stress in spring wheat. In 2018, Dr. Sukumaran received the Early Career Agricultural Scientist award from the Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO) for his contributions to wheat research and breeding.

Service: Beyond research, Dr. Sukumaran actively contributes to the scientific community. He serves as an associate editor for the Crop Science journal from the Crop Science Society of America and holds positions on the editorial boards of several other journals.