From Lab to Field

Doreen Ware’s work for the USDA Agricultural Research Service has been instrumental in discovering how specific agronomic traits, environmental factors and biotic influences impact sorghum’s yield potential.

Article By Samantha Barnett

Growing up, Doreen Ware, Ph.D., traveled across the country. Her dad was stationed in various locations for the Navy, and Ware’s family lived “a gypsy lifestyle.” When her family settled in southern California, she started establishing some roots.

Ware, who now works as a USDA Agricultural Research Service Molecular Biologist, studied as an undergraduate at the University of California-San Diego and completed graduate school at Ohio State University. Her studies revolved around biochemistry and plant biology. After completing a postdoc, Ware took a position with ARS stationed at Cold Spring Harbor in New York. This assignment allows her to conduct research for both the USDA and at a local research institute.

Ware’s research focuses on the development of community-accessible resources including reference genomes and databases. She takes a particular interest in what genes are involved in sorghum and control agronomic traits associated with plant architecture and response to environmental factors and certain biotic influences that impact sorghum’s yield potential.

“One of the things I really love is that I’m developing resources to support other scientists in their work,” Ware said.

Ware emphasized the importance of collaborative science and the value of mentorship. Throughout her education and career, she credited several people who had a lasting impact on her both personally and professionally. From the graduate student who piqued her interests in research as an undergraduate to the network of colleagues surrounding her professionally, Ware said mentors have made all the difference.

Throughout her career, Ware has been fortunate enough to surround herself with people who understand her particular circumstances and provide her the flexibility to work through certain challenges. She said the compassion shown to her from people across the agricultural and scientific spectrums have allowed for her to do her work and do it well. Her role as a mom, daughter and outstanding scientist is admired by the sorghum community.

“I really love working with sorghum because my research directly benefits researchers and the farmer,” Ware said. “I can see it go from the lab to the field.”


This story originally appeared in the Fall 2020 Issue of Sorghum Grower magazine as a feature.