Recipients of the C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding

Kevin Chiteri grew up on a small farm in Western Kenya. Early on, he was exposed to growing crops for household consumption and surplus for sale. He obtained a B.S. (2013) in Microbiology & Biotechnology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He was involved in advocacy for environmental sustainability, biotech adoption, and favorable government policies spurring the creation of bio-entrepreneurship opportunities for biosciences graduates. He obtained an M.S. (2017) in Molecular Biology from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. In 2019, he started his Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics with Predictive Plant Phenomics (P3) specialization with Dr. Arti Singh. Kevin researches basic questions by exploring the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of the root & leaf architecture of the Iowa mungbean diversity panel. The first objective, “Dissecting the Root Phenotypic and Genotypic Variability of the Iowa Mung Bean Diversity Panel,” was recently published in Frontiers in Plant Science in 2022. Kevin continues to explore how the genetic diversity can be harnessed for mungbean crop improvement.

Kevin has served on several professional student committees, including the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) Research Conference officer, NAPPN2022, Agronomy Senator, NAPB-GSWG, the R.F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium, Phenome2020, and Treasurer and President of Genetics and Genomics Group (G3). He has a passion for science communication (2020 Reiman Garden Science Communicator), biotechnology stewardship, and technology transfer, especially to smallholder farmers in low-income countries. Kevin enjoys discussing how geo-politics are critical for food security.


Matheus Krause is originally from Pato Branco, PR, Brazil. Spending time on his grandpa’s business and friends’ farm when growing up gave him a strong interest in agriculture and livestock. Following his dreams, he obtained a B.S. in Agronomy in 2015 with a specialization in France, followed by a master’s degree in Genetics and Plant Breeding in 2018 from the University of São Paulo. Later that year, Matheus started his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding at Iowa State University under Dr. William Beavis in the G. F. Sprague Quantitative Genetics Group. His graduate research work focuses on the development of estimation methods to obtain unbiased realized genetic gain using data from routine field trials, and on the development of novel breeding strategies to ensure optimal trade-offs among competing objectives. Matheus published a paper in Crop Science exploring genomic prediction in maize in the framework of multi-environment trials (METs). In addition, Matheus has been invited to join multi-disciplinary projects that have resulted in three peer-reviewed publications including mapping of leaf photosynthetic and functional traits in soybean, applying probability concepts for cultivar recommendation in METs, and detection of a major locus for spontaneous haploid genome doubling in maize.

Matheus has been actively involved in the R.F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium, helping the Speaker Committee in 2020 and serving as the Information Technology Committee Chair in 2021. Additionally, he has been awarded a scholarship to attend the 2022 Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics from the University of Washington. When not working, Matheus enjoys reading, fishing, riding a motorcycle, listening to music, and biking.


Yan Zhou, originally from Hebei, China, obtained a B.S. in Plant Science from Agricultural University of Hebei in 2009 and a M.S. in Genetics from Nanjing Agriculture University in 2012. He then joined the industry working on male sterile genes in maize and helped develop a hybrid seed production system using transgenic multi-control sterility system, during which he developed a passion and an interest in inflorescence. Since 2015, Yan has been a Ph.D. student in Genetics and Genomics at Iowa State University, working in Dr. Patrick Schnable’s Lab. His graduate research work focuses on developing image-based phenotyping platforms that can be specifically used to study inflorescence and leaf architecture in grain crops. He has published two first author papers. First paper was published in Plant Physiology in 2019 focusing on semi-automated trait extraction from sorghum panicle images. His second paper was published in The Plant Cell in 2021, in which he and his colleagues found genetically associated measurement errors in several high-throughput phenotyping pipelines and tested its impacts on genetic inferences for QTL mapping and GWAS. He is working on his third paper on maize canopy architecture and schedule to submit it to peer review journal soon.

Yan has participated the R.F. Baker Plant Breeding Symposium at ISU and multiple Plant Sciences Symposia at other universities where he has shared his research findings. In his free time, Yan enjoys reading, running, practicing Kendo, and spending time with his two cats.


The C. R. Weber Award for Excellence in Plant Breeding was established in 1981 to recognize outstanding academic and research accomplishments by plant breeding graduate students in the Department of Agronomy. C. R. Weber was a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University who made outstanding contributions to plant breeding, particularly in soybeans. The award was established by his family and friends to reward graduate students with the same goal for excellence to which he aspired. A cash award of $500 will be given to students in the Department of Agronomy with majors in plant breeding who meet the qualifications.

Congratulations Kevin, Matheus and Yan!

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