"Role of IP Protection and Management in Translational Research Aiming at Commercializing Technologies."
Monica Alandete-Saez, Ph.D.
Director of Analyses & Outreach
Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture
Graduate Student Spotlight
Stephanie Smolenski Zullo
My name is Stephanie Smolenski Zullo, and I am a second-year Ph.D. student in the Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group, focusing on Plant Breeding and Genetics in Dina St.Clair’s lab. I am studying Plant Breeding and Genetics to learn more about novel methods to improve crop varieties needed to feed an expanding global population.
I was born in New York City and raised in a surrounding suburb on Long Island. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and my Master’s Degree in Crop Science with a concentration in Plant Breeding from the University of Illinois. I began my career in agriculture in Cornell’s Plant Pathology Department by scouting, testing and reporting soybean leaf samples for rust. I later worked in the research greenhouses at Cornell and was involved with a broad scope of research projects while learning the basics of how to keep plants alive.
I worked for Monsanto’s Line Development Breeding Program in Central Illinois and participated in their commercial breeding, hybrid testing, and pathology groups as well. I gained a wealth of knowledge in conventional plant breeding, experimental design, and data collection protocols for large-scale research projects, and had my first experiences driving planters, tractors, and combines. Monsanto was where I gained my incredible mentor, Michael Kovach, Ph.D., and my passion for plant breeding.
I moved to Northern California when I began working for DuPont Pioneer’s Sunflower Research & Development team in Woodland. My work included developing new inbred lines by incorporating exotic germplasm into our breeding program, collecting yield and seed oil profile data in our hybrid testing trials, and developing complete descriptions of established inbred lines for registration.
I was interested in studying at UC Davis to learn from and work with some of the most distinguished researchers in the field of agricultural research. I decided to join Dina St.Clair’s lab because of her well-earned reputation as a plant geneticist, and to work on my favorite vegetable…tomatoes! In the St.Clair lab, I am fine-mapping a QTL for water stress tolerance in near-isogenic lines of fresh-market tomato. Since nearly a third of all fresh-market tomatoes are grown in California, identifying a QTL that can produce an equivalent yield with a fraction of the water is incredibly valuable. I am also studying the heritability of several fruit quality traits while developing improved heirloom varieties in the Student Collaborative Organic Plant Breeding Education (SCOPE) Project. SCOPE has been a great learning experience in designing and managing a plant-breeding program with other graduate and undergraduate students, as well as understanding the challenge of making gains in selection for complex traits such as fruit quality, yield, and flavor. It has also been incredibly helpful to have the guidance and input of multiple faculty members on developing a plant-breeding program, and I am thankful to the many people who have allocated their time to answering my many questions. I hope to continue working in plant breeding after graduation, and hope to develop new varieties that focus on quality characteristics such as flavor, in addition to traits related to fruit quality and stress tolerance.
There are a lot of great learning opportunities at UC Davis; I would encourage incoming and new students to find a way to participate in whatever interests them, be it classes, seminars, or volunteer opportunities. Get involved and soak in as much intellectually as you can during your limited time here in Davis. In the words of Professor Jeff Mitchell, “Be ready for a great number of new learning opportunities and be prepared to step up enthusiastically and to be engaged in everything we do.”
Coincides With Birth of California-Grown Specialty Coffee Industry
The first public genome sequence for Coffea arabica, the species responsible for more than 70 percent of global coffee production, was released today by researchers at the University of California, Davis.
Funding for the sequencing was provided by Suntory group, an international food and beverage company based in Tokyo.
Now available for immediate use by scientists and plant breeders around the world, the new genome sequence has been posted to Phytozome.net, the public database for comparative plant genomics coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute. Read more...
During the American Seed Trade Association’s CSS 2016 & Seed Expo in Chicago, the National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders recognized Allen Van Deynze with the Public Plant Breeding Award.
This award is given to a person who has made outstanding basic contributions to the advancement of plant breeding and genetics in the public sector, said Rice Tec’s Jose Rea, who presented the award consisting of a $1,500 check and an engraved plaque. Read more...