USDA ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, 1111 South Mason Street Fort Collins, CO USA
Dr. Richards received his MS in molecular biology at Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Genetics and Botany at Duke University. He currently works as a population geneticist for the USDA’s National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation which is the base collection for the US National Plant Germplasm System. His work focuses on methods that help locate and sample genetic diversity from the wild and monitor its integrity after it is brought in to the collection. One research focus has been on the diversity of crop wild relatives and the history of their domestication. Often methods that are used to explore these processes span the boundary between phylogenetics and ecological/ population genetics. Of particular interest is the application of genetic/genomic diversity data in genebank management. A central issue is whether genebanks can maintain the quality of the materials that are collected, and this, in turn, affects the ability to sustain diversity -- the general mission of genebanks. Methods for structuring diversity lead to new ways to find and utilize diversity.