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Dave Wallis, Published February 01 2010
Portraits: Xianwen Zhu
As the frigid winter temperature hovers around 10 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of about 20 below and an outdoor color palette of white and gray, Xianwen Zhu’s work includes time surrounded by tall green plants of wheat in a set of greenhouses that are kept at a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees. Zhu, 33, is a visiting agricultural scientist from China who has applied to graduate school to get a doctorate degree at North Dakota State University. “It’s a lot colder here,” says Zhu, explaining that the winters in his home country only get down to about the freezing range. With a master’s degree in vegetable breeding from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, his project here involves looking at plant cell division occurring in the reproduction process of the plant and manipulating cells for wheat improvement, which makes wheat breeding more efficient and productive.