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Dr. Bruce Bugbee

Professor, Environmental Plant Physiology, Utah State University

Bruce Bugbee is a professor at Utah State University and President of Apogee Instruments. He has collaborated with NASA for 40 years to design food production systems for people living on Mars. In 2011 he was awarded the Governors Medal for Science and is a Fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and American Society of Horticulture. He has recorded multiple videos on photobiological principles; one video on cannabis has over a million views. Perhaps his pinnacle achievement is summarizing everything he knows in a TED talk entitled, “Turning Water into Food.”

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Dr. Margaret Worthington

Assistant Professor, Fruit Breeding and Genetics, University of Arkansas

Dr. Worthington breeds blackberries, peaches, nectarines, and muscadine grapes at the University of Arkansas Department of Horticulture. Prior to joining the University of Arkansas in 2016, she received her M.S. Horticulture and Agronomy from UC Davis and Ph.D. in Crop Science from NC State and worked as a tropical forage breeder at CIAT in Cali, Colombia. Her primary research interest is applied cultivar development, but she also leads research on fruit genetics and molecular breeding. Current projects include sequencing and annotation of the blackberry genome, genome-wide association studies for fruit quality traits in blackberry, and adaptation of molecular breeding tools developed in bunch grapes for use in muscadines.

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Dr. David Clark

Professor, Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida

In the basic science arena, his group was the first to produce genetically-engineered plants with ethylene insensitive flowers that last twice as long as normal flowers.  Building on that success, his lab has engineered plants to not only produce larger flowers, but also to produce leaves that remain green longer, and to enhance floral fragrance.  His work in functional genomics has led to the development of the largest publicly-available DNA sequence database in the world for his model species Petunia.  Dr. Clark has expanded his research group to include an applied focus on tropical plants, developing a conventional breeding program for the production of new varieties.  In the past decade his Coleus breeding program has released several new varieties of colorful annual bedding plants that are now growing in summer gardens across the US, Canada, Europe and Asia.

Allen Van Deynze

Dr. Allen Van Deynze

Director, Seed Biotechnology Center, University of California - Davis

Dr. Allen Van Deynze is the Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center and Associate Director of the Plant Breeding Center at University of California, Davis. He has a Ph.D in plant breeding from University of Guelph, Canada. As part of the SBC’s mission to serve as a liaison between public institutions and seed industry, Allen is responsible for developing, coordinating and conducting research and generating and disseminating scientific and informational content for the Seed Biotechnology Center’s and Plant Breeding Center’s educational and outreach programs. His research focuses on developing and integrating genomics into plant breeding of California and African crops. He has programs on breeding for disease resistance and quality in pepper and spinach, and development and application of genomics in crops. With Dr. Kent Bradford he co-developed and is organizer for the Plant Breeding Academysm and past chair of the US Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee. He has been involved in International and National policy including US Regulations for Biotechnology. He is an instructor for the African Plant Breeding Academy and Scientific Director for the African Orphan Crops Consortium.

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Dr. Ksenija Gasic

Professor, Plant and Environmental Science, Clemson University

Dr. Gasic works on the development of high quality, disease resistant peach varieties adapted to environmental conditions of Southeastern US using traditional and molecular breeding techniques; characterization and utilization of the peach genetic diversity in landraces, genbank collections and elite germplasm for germplasm enhancement; marker/QTL discovery for the traits of interest; and development and utilization of genomic technology to improve breeding efficiency. She is also working on development of Prunus rootstocks tolerant/resistant to both peach tree short life (PTSL) and Armillaria spp.

Sara Lira

Dr. Sara Lira

Research Scientist, Corteva Agri-science

Dr. Lira graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in Ecology, an MS in Genetics, and a PhD in Agronomy.  After breeding corn for ten years, she has has recently turned her focus to breeding for emerging climate-positive cropping systems.  Her work has emphasized the development of peas for use as a short season protein crop and a nitrogen source in non-traditional pea-growing areas.