Early Career Scientist Spotlight | Bazgha Zia

Bazgha Zia is a postdoctoral researcher in the United States vegetable laboratory (USVL) at Charleston, South Carolina. The focus of Bazgha’s work is controlled environment agriculture, plant breeding & genomics, plant pathology & integrated disease management, crop management, and crop economics.

Bazgha Zia

Bazgha Zia is a postdoctoral researcher at the United States Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.

Who is your project leader or major professor & members of your committee?
Dr. Kai Shu Ling and Dr. Alvin Simmons

What is your hometown?

What is the focus of your work?
Controlled environment agriculture, plant breeding & genomics, plant pathology & integrated disease management, crop management, crop economics.

Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.
I am an ORISE (Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education) postdoctoral researcher in the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory (USLV) in Charleston, SC under the supervision of Dr. Alvin Simmons and Dr. Kai Ling. Being trained as a geneticist and breeder during my master’s and PhD studies, my projects at the USVL are focused on the development of virus resistant genetic material in cucurbits, identification of novel virus strains and establishment of various crop trials for controlled environment agriculture targeted to address the food security issues.

Why did you choose to work with Cucurbits, plant breeding, plant pathology, genomics, horticulture, agricultural economics or crop production?
Cucurbits production is greatly affected by the disease pressure around US, therefore it is important to devise reliable solution to the emerging diseases. This intrigued my interest to apply the skills of plant breeding, genetics and pathology, which I learned during my Ph.D. and master’s to study the basis of resistance against viral diseases in cucurbits.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time working on the CucCAP grant, and what do you most look forward to in this position?
The part of my project funded by the CucCAP grant is mainly involved with enhancing the sources of resistance to the CGMMV disease in cucumbers and watermelon by screening the existing germplasm and also by breeding for resistance. I am looking forward to identifying the genetic elements associated with the development of viral diseases in cucurbits. These genetic elements will be further explored and modified to enhance genetic resistance through use of genome editing and plant breeding.

Please provide a brief description of your research.
My research is centralized on using plant breeding and genome editing techniques coupled with latest innovations such as controlled environment agriculture to address the food security issues. I am deploying various studies involving the genotypic and phenotypic interactions among host plant and viruses to identify potential genomic regions associated with resistance to the virus diseases such as CGMMV. These will be further explored and deployed to develop resistant cultivars to combat the losses associated with disease incidence in cucurbits. Apart from this I am also focusing on using the controlled environment agriculture to test various plant types suitable for indoor production with higher yield and lower disease pressure in order to reduce food losses.

What is your favorite crop or plant disease?
Tomato, Strawberry, watermelon and cucumber.

Do you have any social media handles that you want included?
LinkedIn (Bazgha Bajwa), Twitter