Exciting and beet breeding don’t usually go in the same sentence. But one recent UW Grad has managed to share his excitement over the work he has done through his masters program in a way that has people eager to learn more about plant genetics. Adam D’Angelo just finished up his masters on the UW Madison campus. The New Jersey native did his undergrad at Rutgers, researching hazelnuts before he found his way to the Midwest. His master’s focus? Researching table beets and improving their flavor and eating quality.
UW Madison is home to the Erwin Goldman lab. In that lab the plant breeding research focuses on carrots, onions and table beets. D’angelo’s research focused on the latter, and honed in on making table beets more palatable by changing some of the compounds found that create the earthy taste or cause a burning sensation when beets are eaten raw. This research continues to add to UW Madison’s prestige of being the only public table beet breeding program.
Badger Flame, a beet variety developed in Madison, is not the deep red earthy flavored vegetable most people think of when they think of beets. The yellow and orange marbled beet is not only beautiful, it’s also sweeter than standard beets. It’s garnering a lot of attention including a billboard advertising the variety in Boston. It will be hitting store shelves in Whole Foods in the near future. D’Angelo says that’s just one promising variety coming out of the work done at the Goldman lab.
Adam isn’t just a plant breeder, he’s taken on the role of educator via his channels on social media. What started as a YouTube channel showing his family and friends back home what he was doing while away at college, turned into a more public facing project as he realized the interest from the general public. Eventually adding on Instagram and TikTok, Adam taught himself to edit video and produce both short and long form content. The videos teach about plant breeding and show off some of the research going on at campus.
Adam is currently taking a break from creating content for social media, a move meant to help him focus on finishing up his master’s program. But he plans to get back to it soon, when he hopes to launch the next steps in his plant breeding career. You can check out his videos and follow along on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok by searching The Seed Scholar.