Dr. Dong studied Seed Science and Engineering at Shandong Agricultural University (China) from 2008-2012. He graduated with a Master of Science degree in Plant and Soil Sciences from Oklahoma State University in 2014 and went on to complete his Ph.D. in Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017.Dr. Dong became involved in the turfgrass breeding program at Oklahoma State University, where he worked as a Master’s student under the direction of Professor, Dr. Yanqi Wu. Dr. Dong says “studying the genetics of turfgrass and breeding for improved plant materials has great scientific, economic and societal benefits. He goes on to say: “I joined Mississippi State University as a turfgrass breeder to continue this exciting journey.”
Mentors, such as Dr. Yanqi Wu at Oklahoma State University, Dr. Erik Sacks at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Dr. Andrews Patterson at the University of Georgia, encouraged him to pursue his career.
Dr. Dong acknowledges his Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Erik Sacks, with this advice: “Be meticulous about everything in your breeding program”. He will remember this as he strives to develop and evaluate a large number of experimental lines per breeding cycle.
When asked “Where would you like to be in your career 10 years from now”, he said “commercialize several elite selections from my predecessor Mr. Wayne Philley’s work and identify several superior turfgrass selections from my own breeding program for potential commercialization. Also, to train multiple undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs”. He would also like to have had scientific publications published, do presentations and seminars to inform people about turf breeding.
When not working, Hongxu enjoys running outdoors and likes basketball and golf. But he is a novice at golf, so go easy on him! He also likes to travel and enjoyed a trip to Universal Studios at Orlando. He says that the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park is mind-blowing.
Dr. Dong is single (but attached), his girlfriend works in Atlanta.
Dr. Dong is a member of the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy. He has already achieved many awards and honors. Some of his most recent are: 2017 Dermot P. Coyne Leadership Award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; 2017 Nebraska Plant Breeding Symposium Student Oral Presentation Award, and the 2016 M. B. Russell Memorial Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The Mississippi Turfgrass Association looks forward to working with Dr. Dong.