General Faculty

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ALAN BENNETT

Dr. Bennett’s research program focuses on the genetic modification of plant quality and, particularly, on the improvement of the postharvest characteristics and the enhancement of plant quality. They approach issues of development and postharvest performance with a combination of biochemical, genetic and genomic experimentation in order to understand the regulation and basis of fruit production and quality. 

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EDUARDO BLUMWALD

Dr. Blumwald’s research program is multidisciplinary in nature, combining physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genomics and proteomics. The general objectives of our work are: (i) the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate ion homeostasis in plants… 

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KENT BRADFORD

Dr. Bradford’s research and teaching interests are in seed biology, production and quality. He is the Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center, which works closely with the seed and plant breeding industry to conduct research that facilitates breeding, cultivar development, seed production and seed quality assessment and conservation. 

CHARLES BRUMMER

Dr. Brummer is the Director of the Plant Breeding Center. His research program focuses on developing cultivars and germplasm of alfalfa and other crops for forage and bioenergy uses. His research has focused primarily on investigating ways to improve biomass yield, from traditional breeding method enhancements to the use of molecular markers. 

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ROGER CHETELAT

Dr. Chetelat’s lab studies the reproductive barriers that limit hybridization between cultivated and wild tomato species.  Their focus is on unilateral incompatibility, a prefertilization barrier, and they are cloning the  underlying genes and exploring their relationship to self-incompatibility. 

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LUCA COMAI

Dr. Comai’s lab is involved in two areas pertinent to breeding.  In the first, they study genome regulation, hybridization, and heterosis responses in chromosome copy number variants and interspecific hybridization. 

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DOUG COOK

Four main areas of research define the Cook laboratory: Analysis of legume genome evolution by means of comparative genomics and phylogenetic methods; Development of genomic resources for genetic improvement of crop legume species, particularly in the developing world; Genetic, molecular and cell biology of signaling and development during symbiotic nitrogen fixation; Functional genomics of bacterial disease susceptibility and resistance in cultivated grapes. 

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TED DEJONG

Dr. DeJong is the Principle Investigator for a Dried Plum/Prune Breeding and Cultivar Development Program that has as its primary goal the development of new dried plum cultivars that mature earlier or later than the current industry standard cultivar, ‘Improved French.’  

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JORGE DUBCOVSKY

Wheat breeding and wheat genetics – the major goals of the research program are to gain a better understanding of the effects of allelic variants of wheat genes that are relevant to agriculture and to develop the tools required for an efficient manipulation of these genes in wheat improvement. 

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JAN DVORAK

Dr. Dvorak’s principal interest is plant structural genomics, focusing on the physical mapping, genome sequencing and the development of marker technologies for plant breeding and genetics. Additional interests are crop evolution, crop genetic diversity, genome evolution and plant evolution. 

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LYNN EPSTEIN

Dr. Epstein’s interests are in sustainable and organic agriculture, she is willing to assist in the selection and breeding of disease-resistant varieties. 

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PAUL GEPTS

Dr. Gepts’ research and teaching program focuses on crop biodiversity and genetic resources. He is interested in elucidating the evolutionary processes that shape the diversity of crops and their wild progenitors, with a focus on beans and cowpea, as well as Mesoamerican domesticates. 

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ROBERT GILBERTSON

Dr. Gilbertson is interested in utilizing various approaches to assess plant pathogen diversity and to apply this information in the development of disease resistant varieties through collaboration with plant breeders. He is also interested in developing improved pathogen detection and inoculation methods in order to facilitate improved screening of crop varieties, germplasm and progenies for disease resistance to a variety of pathogens. 

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THOMAS GRADZIEL

Dr. Gradziel’s research focuses on the development of improved breeding lines and varieties of almond and processing peach. In his teaching, he examines the genetic and agro-ecological components of tree crop production as well as effective problem solving approaches in these complex, multidisciplinary systems. 

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DAN KLIEBENSTEIN

The major question that Dr. Kliebenstein’s lab is studying is how and why plants make secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites are plant compounds that provide the taste, flavor, color and medicinal activities that people associate with specific plants. 

STEVEN J. KNAPP

Dr. Knapp is the Director of the Strawberry Breeding Program.  His research focuses on breeding, genetics, and genomics, cultivar development and deployment, understanding and identifying genetic factors underlying economically  important phenotypes (e.g., disease resistance, yield, daylight sensitivity, and fruit quality), marker-assisted selection and genomic selection, and conserving and utilizing genetic diversity. 

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TOM LEDIG

Dr. Ledig’s research interests are in conservation genetics and biogeography of rare conifers from the U.S. and Mexico, and conservation of genetic resources in general. 

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RICHARD MICHELMORE

Dr. Michelmore’s research foci include classical and molecular genetics of disease resistance in plants, with particular emphasis on lettuce and tomato; comparative functional genomics of the Compositae; and molecular marker technologies for marker-assisted selection. 

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DAVID NEALE

Dr. Neale’s research interests concern the genomics of forest trees, complex traits, QTL and association studies, population genetics and adaptation, and marker-based breeding. 

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DAN PARFITT

Dr. Parfitt’s academic training is in the area of plant breeding and genetics, with practical experience breeding potatoes, sunflower, and more recently pistachio, of which he has recently released three new cultivars. He is also interested in the collection, maintenance, and evaluation of genetic diversity in economically important plants, especially the application of molecular genetic tools for evaluation of diversity. 

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ANN POWELL

Dr. Powell’s research investigates plants that produce edible fruit to improve the quality and production of human food. They study the biological processes accompanying and causing deterioration, particularly after harvest, with the intention of developing varieties with improved quality characteristics. 

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PAM RONALD

Dr. Ronald’s lab use genomic, proteomic, and informatic tools to study rice perception, signaling, and response to biotic and abiotic stress.  Because of its diploid genetics, small genome size, extensive genetic map, available genome sequence, and relative ease of transformation, rice is a model for other monocots. 

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JEFFREY ROSS-IBARRA

Dr. Ross-Ibarra’s lab studies the evolutionary genetics of crops and their wild relatives, focusing primarily on maize. 

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DINA ST. CLAIR

Dr. St. Clair’s lab studies breeding, genetics and genomics of quantitatively inherited traits in crop plants, including resistance to biotic (diseases and pests) and abiotic stresses. 

Allen

ALLEN VAN DEYNZE

Dr. Van Deynze is responsible for developing, coordinating and conducting research and generating and disseminating scientific and informational content for the Center’s educational and outreach programs.

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ANDY WALKER

Dr. Walker has been a faculty member of the Department of Viticulture and Enology since 1989, the same year he began breeding grapes. His research program focuses on developing new rootstocks with resistance to fanleaf, dagger and root-knot nematodes and phylloxera.