Three women posing together, the one in front has a peace sign up with her fingers and is wearing sunglasses.
Craig, Emma, Matt, Alan, and Lillian on field day in front of the paddies.
Group photo from the 2022 wild rice symposium
Program members at a table in a restaurant.
Group photo from field day 2021

St. Paul

A map of the St. Paul Campus

Grand Rapids Campus

A map of the Grand Rapids Campus.

Dr. Jenny Kimball, Assistant Professor

Jenny is originally from the finger lakes region of upstate New York. She obtained her BA in biology at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. After working in Dr. Susan McCouch's rice genetics program at Cornell University for several years, Jenny completed her Masters and PhD degrees at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC in Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis' turfgrass breeding & genetics program. She then joined Dr. Peter Balint-Kurti’s maize disease program at NCSU as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2017, she was hired as an assistant professor in the Dept. of Agronomy & Plant Genetics at the Univ. of Minnesota to work on wild rice. Jenny is a self-proclaimed crazy basset hound lady who loves to cook, paint, and spend time with her son. 

Contact info: [email protected]          Google Scholar Profile


Lillian McGilp, Wild Rice Breeding Director, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN

Lillian is a Minnesota native. She received her BS in Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management, with a minor in Plant Biology, from the University of Minnesota. She completed her Master's in Plant Pathology where she studied Leaf Mold of Tomato, also at the University of Minnesota. Lillian serves a wide range of functions in the program including member supervision, project development and management, data analysis, and writing. Lillian enjoys cooking, doing puzzles, and camping.

Contact info: [email protected] 


Alan Mickelson, Wild Rice Breeding Director, NCROC, Grands Rapids, MN

Alan is originally from Champlin, Minnesota and finished his B.S. in Biology and Plant Science at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2012.  He has spent the last several years working in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota.  While there he studied poly-cystic kidney disease before moving to pulmonary complications in patients living with HIV.  He manages the field work side of the wild rice program.  In his spare time he likes to hike with his Brittany, Maggie, foster for American Brittany Rescue and get out on his motorcycle.

Contact info:[email protected]

Claudia standing in a paddy of wild rice.

Dr. Claudia Castell-Miller, Researcher, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN

Claudia is originally from Argentina. She obtained an Agronomic Engineer degree at the National University of La Plata, Argentina. She worked at the National Institute of Agriculture Technology in Anguil, La Pampa, and in Manfredi, Cordoba, Argentina, for several years. Her work was on soil nutrients and water supply for cereals, but her research focused on characterizing alfalfa varieties and germplasm, and breeding. Claudia completed a Master’s degree at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (CIHEAM) Spain (Adv: Dr. D. Basigalup), characterizing the Argentinean alfalfa germplasm and another at the UMN, improving oat populations for partial resistance to crown rust (Adv: Dr. D. Stuthman). She has a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the UMN on taxonomy, molecular and pathogenic variability of Phoma medicaginis populations and its infection process on alfalfa (Adv: Dr. D. Samac). She has worked for several years on the Bipolaris oryzaeZizania palustris pathosystem and managing foliar diseases and fungicide resistance in cultivated wild rice. She enjoys scouting wild rice paddies for diseases and working with the growers and her co-workers at the UMN. Exercising, eating chocolate candies and spending time with her husband Daniel and dog Audi are her favorite activities.

Contact info: [email protected]

Matt Anderson surrounded by plants in a greenhouse.

Matt Anderson, Researcher, NCROC,Grand Rapids, MN

Matt graduated from Bigfork High School and Itasca Community College’s Natural Resources/Law Enforcement program. He earned his law enforcement certificate at Hibbing Community College, and a degree in Natural Resources Park Management at U of M Crookston. For the past nine years, Matt has been employed at Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF)-Togo as a corrections officer. He and his wife, Jessica, reside in Bigfork with their two sons, Wyatt and Hunter. In the program, Matt helps to maintain field research plots and support wild rice breeding, production, and agronomic research.

Contact info: [email protected] 


Reneth Millas, Graduate Researcher, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN

Reneth is originally from the Philippines. She obtained her BS in Agriculture, major in Plant Breeding, from Visayas State University in Leyte, Philippines, and also worked at the Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division of the Philippine Rice Research Institute for several years. Reneth completed her Master’s degree in the Agricultural Sciences major in Plant Science at Tennessee State University where she worked on the characterization of soybean with improved fatty acid profile through mutation breeding. As a Ph.D. student, Reneth will focus her research on performing QTL mapping and GWAS, with the ultimate goal of identifying markers that are associated with shattering resistance for marker-assisted selection. Reneth's fellowship is funded by the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Growers Council. In her spare time, she enjoys bicycling and hiking.


Maybell standing in front of a University building.

Maybell Banting, Graduate Researcher, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN

Maybell earned her BS in Biology from the Central Luzon State University, Philippines in 2016. She then worked at the Philippine Rice Research Institute, where she previously conducted studies on rice breeding for drought tolerance, soil moisture fluctuation stress response, nitrogen usage efficiency, and the National Cooperative Testing Project. Maybell joined the lab as a Ph.D. student in the Applied Plant Sciences Program at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her research will mainly focus on developing seed shattering related KASP markers for
cultivar development and developing the first high-resolution linkage map of the wild rice genome. Maybell enjoys watching movies and taking scenic photos while traveling with her


Kane in a life jacket and hat giving a double thumbs up.

Kane Farmer, Undergraduate Researcher, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN


Kane is a Plant Science major who grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but is originally from The Florida Keys where he spent most of his summers growing up. He is broadly interested in plant-pathogen interactions, aquatic plants, and ethnoagriculture. In his spare time he likes traveling, reading, and trying new foods. 



Nangah wearing a University of Minnesota sweatshirt and a headband.

Nangah Awasum, Undergraduate Researcher, St. Paul Campus, St. Paul, MN

Nangah is a Cameroon native and second-year Human Physiology student at the University of Minnesota. She is passionate about understanding physiological aspects of the human body and how it ties to nutrition. She is also captivated by the endless possibilities of biotechnology. Nangah aspires to elevate healthcare in Cameroon through her studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and learning new languages.


Nathaniel in a University of Minnesota shirt standing in front of a wild rice paddy.

Nathaniel Pearson, Undergraduate Researcher, NCROC, Grand Rapids, MN

Nathaniel grew up in Grand Rapids Minnesota but is from Helena Montana. He graduated from Grand Rapids High School and is currently going to Itasca Community College for a certificate in GIS. After ICC he plans to go to UND for the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics UAS operations. In the program he helps with various tasks and flies the imaging drone. He enjoys fishing and swimming at his cabin and flying his drone.