Jose L. Gonzalez
Position Title: Associate Professor
Department: Plant Sciences
Area of Research: Applied Crop Genetics and Genomics. My laboratory studies different genetic traits in wheat, an important crop for South Dakota, and in prairie cordgrass, a native perennial grass we are developing as a bioenergy crop.
What motivates you about your chosen field?
Since an early age I have been interested in science. I was blessed to have a outstanding science teacher in the equivalent to middle school and junior high in Spain. One day in sixth grade, I skipped recess with two other classmates to extract DNA from two pounds of chicken livers; that day I knew I wanted to be a geneticist. Choosing to study crop plants was later when I realized their tremendous importance to society.
Why did you choose to conduct your research at SDSU?
Land Grant Universities such as SDSU play a vital, and sometimes underestimated, role in the economic development of the USA. The connection between academia and society is most intense and direct in these institutions. In no other institution is this connection more direct than at SDSU.
What roles do your colleagues and student research assistants play in the work you do?
A vital one. Science is based on exchange and testing of ideas. Modern day science is also based on team work. My colleagues are the essential component for ideas exchange and team work. Student research assistants carry out much of the day-to-day of my research projects. They are in some ways like my children; they represent the future, and I am honored having them in my lab.
What have been some of your greatest research accomplishments while at State?
I am very proud of the work we are doing on prairie cordgrass. We have been the leading group in this species with reservations from our colleagues at other institutions. Now those colleagues are recognizing the potential of this species.
What do you enjoy most about SDSU?
My colleagues and the students. People is the soul of any organization. Our faculty and students define SDSU.
What piece of advice would you give new students?
When I started my college life at the University of Navarra in Spain, I received two pieces of advice: to read a national or international newspaper everyday, something I still do, and to talk and interact with students and faculty in other areas of study. I would also advise our students to make sure that they take advantage of the diverse opportunities available at SDSU; international experiences, seminars, clubs, courses in other fields and undergraduate research opportunities. In summary, make sure to say 'yes' more times than 'no' to new opportunities.