Name: Brandon Tonnis
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Year in School: Graduate Student
In his own words ...
Where are you from, and why did you choose to study at UGA/CAES?
I am from Cincinnati, OH originally, but I have lived in Georgia for the past 16+ years. I currently live in Peachtree City, outside of Atlanta, and work at the USDA-PGRCU. I choose UGA to further my education and increase opportunities for working in fields of plant breeding and plant genetic resources conservation.
What is your major/degree program, and what department?
Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics, degree: Plant Breeding.
Why did you choose your major?
I chose Plant Breeding because it is directly applicable to the career I am currently in which is conservation of plant genetic resources with the USDA.
What is your favorite class you have taken?
Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS)
Who has been your favorite instructor?
Dr. Jason Wallace
What has been the best experience you've had so far at CAES?
I am a non-traditional student having already worked professionally for almost 20 years since I last attended school. The best experience is simply being a student again, taking classes, and interacting with other students who are working towards that same goal that I am.
What do you want to do with what you have learned here?
I plan to continue my professional career in USDA, and the education I get from UGA will help open up new opportunities as a federal employee.
How has your experience at UGA changed you?
It has definitely changed me for the better. There has been a lot that has changed in the time since I was last in school. I feel that re-enrolling in school is helping me "catch up" on many of the advances that have been made in how research is conducted and our understanding of plant genetics.
Thinking of the word agriculture - what does agriculture mean to you? In what ways does agriculture impact your life and your culture?
Agriculture is how we survive and live and thrive. It is essential to our very existence as humans. Learning more about agriculture is giving me a much greater understanding and appreciation of where the food that I eat comes from and how much effort goes into optimizing and growing the crops that provides sustenance to me and everyone else.
What do you like to do outside of class — hobbies, interests, secret talents?
I am an older student. My focus outside of work and school mostly includes raising my 2 teenage sons and participating in their activities. Besides that, my personal hobbies include hanging out with my wife, traveling, gardening, exercising (some running, mostly walking), and occasionally playing softball.