Skip to content
students walking into the pool and agriculture building
Clemson University
college of agriculture, forestry and life sciences clemson university

Dil Thavarajah

Professor of Pulse Quality and Nutritional Breeding
Jefferson Science Fellow; Clemson University School of Health Faculty Research Scholar
Agricultural and Environmental Science Department, Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

Office: 113 BRC
Phone: 864-656-2607
Fax: 864-656-4960

Personal Website:


Educational Background

Ph.D Plant Science
University of Saskatchewan, Canada 2006

MSc Soil Sciecne
University of Saskatchewan, Canada 2002

BSc Soil Science
University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka 1996

Courses Taught

1. HORT 4560: Vegetable Crops (Spring - odd years)
2. PES 4760: Global Food Security (Fall - odd years)


Dil Thavarajah is a Professor at Clemson University Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. Dil is leading Pulse Biofortification and Nutritional Breeding program. She also co-leads the Phenomics component of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement at Cornell University. Before her current position, Dil worked at the Canadian lentil breeding and biofortification program at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She started the national Pulse Quality and Nutrition Laboratory at North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, to support the US Pulse industry's nutritional marketing. Dil is internationally recognized as a leader in pulse biofortification, especially for iron, zinc, and selenium. Dil serves as an honorary visiting lecturer at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and a key research partner to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to release biofortified lentil cultivars for Africa and Asia.

Research Interests

I am interested in finding whole-food-based solutions to combat global “hidden hunger” - micronutrient malnutrition, obesity, and overweight. Major research areas are (1) Pulse Breeding for Nutritional traits (Biofortification): Organic pulse crop nutritional breeding – developing organically biofortified dry pea, lentil, and chickpea cultivars for SC and NC (NIFA-OREI); International Agriculture Development – Phenomics (micronutrient enrichment) - increase micronutrient concentration and bioavailability - iron, zinc, selenium, carotenoids, vitamin B, folates in lentil, field pea and chickpea; understand the different forms of phytic acids types benefit to humans and plants to increase phosphorus bioavailability (USAID; USDA-ARS for chickpea); Organic Plant Proteins: developing pulse protein ingredients with balanced amino acid profiles (the Good Food Institute, FoodShot Global); (2) Prebiotic Carbohydrates and Gut Microbiome: Pulse crops used as a whole foods to reduce obesity, and identify obesity metabolic biomarkers using animal models and cell cultures, and (3) Food Systems towards global food security: Developing sustainable food systems to provide daily dietary needs using pulse crops, roots, and Brassica vegetables. Current food system efforts - Tiger Gardens” and ‘Lunch Box.” Global food security research collaborators are the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Morocco and India; HarvestPlus; Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC); University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

Major Grants
1. AFRI-NIFA-OREI: Breeding high protein pulse crops for organic systems
2. AFRI-NIFA-OREI: Breeding organic pulses for SC
3. AFRI-Foundation: Breeding for flavor in pulse crops
4. USDA-ARS: Improving the nutritional value of chickpea
5. Foodshot Global - Precision Pulse Protein
6. SC Department of Agriculture - Pulse Breeding for SC

Lab Members

Nathan Johnson – Bioinformatics
Tristan Lawrence – Field Operations/Project Manager
Emersion Shipe – Pulse Breeder
Adam Kay – Lab Specialist ll
Richard Baker – Research Associate
Sonia Salaria – Doctoral Student
Mark Dempsey – Doctoral Student
Nathan Windsor – Doctoral Student
Amod Madurapperumage – Doctoral Student/Lab Operation Lead
Charmodhi Senarathne - Doctoral Student
Jacob Johnson– UPIC Intern
Charles Kresser, Undergraduate Research Intern

Extension and Outreach

Extension responsibilities include promoting conventional and organic pulse crops as winter cash crops/cover crops to SC and advocating healthy eating by introducing the “Tiger Garden” model to local elementary schools.


Refereed Journal Articles
†Denotes graduate student co-author from my program.
‡Denotes corresponding senior author (Project PI).
*Undergraduate student co-author from my program.

1. Nathan Windsor†, Lucas Boatwright, Richard Boyles, William Bridges, Diego Rubiales, Diego, Dil, Thavarajah‡, 2024. Biofortifying Dry Pea (Pisum sativum L.) for Improved Performance and Nutrition. Legume Science, LEG3-2024-036.
2. Amod Madurapperumage†, M.Z. Nazer, J. Lucas Boatwright, William Bridges, George Vandermark, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2024. High-throughput Phenotyping (HTP) Platforms for Pulse Crop Biofortification. Plants, People, Planet, PPP-R-2024-00942.
3. Mark Dempski†, Dil Thavarajah‡ 2024. Low Molecular Weight Carbohydrates and Stress Tolerance in Lentil (Lens culinaris Medikus): A Review. Frontiers in Plant Sciences, section Plant Breeding, 1408252.
4. Amod Madurapperumage†, Nathan Windsor†, Nathan Johnson, Pushparajah Thavarajah, Leung Tang, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2024. Fourier-transform mid-infrared (FT-MIR) spectroscopy for in vitro protein digestibility measurement of pulse crops, Crop Science, CROP-2023-12-0892-OA. Accepted.
5. Dil Thavarajah‡, Tristan Lawrence, Lucas Boatwright, Nathan Windsor, Nathan Johnson, Joshua Kay, Emerson Shipe, Shiv Kumar, Pushparajah Thavarajah, 2023. Organic dry pea (Pisum sativum L.): a sustainable alternative pulse-based protein for human health. PLoS ONE 18(4): e0284380.
6. Sonia Salaria†, J. Lucas Boatwright, Nathan Johnson, Priyanka Joshi, Pushparajah Thavarajah, George Vandemark, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2023. Fatty acid composition and genome-wide associations of a chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) diversity panel for biofortification efforts. Scientific Report, 13(1):14002.
7. Nathan Johnson†, Pushparajah Thavarajah, Nathan Windsor, Leung Tang, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2023. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR): an inexpensive, rapid, and non-destructive tool for starch and resistant starch analysis. The Plant Phenome Journal, 2023; 6: e20086.
8. Nathan Johnson†, J Lucas Boatwright, William Bridges, Pushparajah Thavarajah, Shiv Kumar, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2023. Targeted improvement of plant-based protein: Genome-wide association mapping of lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) diversity panel. Plants, People, Planet (PPP), 6(3):640-655
9. Amod Madurapperumage†, Nathan Johnson, Pushparajah Thavarajah, Leung Tang, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2023. Fourier-transform mid-infrared (FT-MIR) spectroscopy as a high-throughput phenotyping tool for measuring total fatty acids in chickpeas (Cicer arietinum L.). ACS Food Science & Technology, 3:1568-1576.
10. Tony Reda†, Pushparajah Thavarajah, William Bridges, Scott Whiteside, Robert Polomski, Emerson Shipe, Dil Thavarajah‡, 2022. Shelf life of greenhouse- and garden-grown kale in nitrogen-enriched and non-enriched packaging. HortScience, 57(11), 1466-1472.


Handle: @CpulsesBreeding
Channel: ‘Clemson Pulse Breeding’
Going Organic
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences |