Jill Cairns is a physiologist whose current research is largely focused on the development, validation and deployment of new phenotyping tools to increase maize breeding efficiency. She is also part of a team validating new seed production technologies for Africa.
These technologies are critical to increasing genetic gain within breeding programs, which is essential to meet future food security. Low cost, high-throughput phenotyping tools can increase the accuracy of traits currently measured visually within breeding programs and the development of cheaper tools to measure key traits will allow breeders to divert more resources towards the generation and management of a larger population, thereby increasing selection intensity.
Cairns currently leads a component of the Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa project on innovative breeding tools and techniques to increase the rate of genetic gain in the maize breeding pipeline, and is the cluster of activities leader for Climate Resilient Maize for Africa under MAIZE, a CGIAR Research Program.