James Schnable



James Schnable's group at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln focuses on the quantitative genetics and breeding of corn, sorghum, and other related crops. Using a combination of advanced genomic, phenomic and machine learning technologies his team is identifying specific genes in crops that improve both the agronomic properties and food quality/value of crop plants. In his eight years at the University, he has established three companies in the fields of bioinformatics, climate-resilient agriculture, and precision agronomy, raised over $7 million in funding from angel and venture investors, and secured more than $20M funding for his research program from a wide range of government agencies and organizations including the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foundation for Food and Agricultural research, for-profit companies and NGOs. Dr. Schnable recently returned to the University of Nebraska after a leave of absence to work at X, a division of Google that develops and implements “moonshot” technologies to make the world a radically better place.

Featured Publications

Sun G, Wase N, Su S, Jenkins J, Zhou B, Torres-Rodriguez JT … Foltz A (17th of 26 authors) … Sigmon B, Yu B, Obata T, Schmutz J, Schnable JC (2023) “Genome of Paspalum vaginatum and the role of trehalose mediated autophagy in increasing maize biomass” Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-35507-8

Yang Q, Van Haute M, Korth N, Sattler S, Toy J, Rose D, Schnable JC, Benson A (2022) “Genetic analysis of seed traits in Sorghum bicolor that affect the human gut microbiome.” Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-33419-1


Mural RVSchnable JC (2022) “Can the grains offer each other helping hands? Convergent molecular mechanisms associated with domestication and crop improvement in rice and maize.” Molecular Plant doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2022.04.003


Mural RVGrzybowski MMiao CDamke A, Sapkota S, Boyles RE, Salas Fernandez MG, Schnable PS, Sigmon B, Kresovich S, Schnable JC (2021) “Meta-analysis identifies pleiotropic loci controlling phenotypic trade-offs in sorghum.” Genetics doi: 10.1093/genetics/iyab087


Meng XLiang ZDai XZhang Y, Mahboub S, Ngu DW, Roston RL, Schnable JC (2021) “Predicting transcriptional responses to cold stress across plant species.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.2026330118