Jorge Berny

Jorge Berny, Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Student in the Gepts Lab

I study adaptation to drought in common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). The focus is to understand the genetic basis and the mechanisms of drought resistance through a better sampling of the genetic variation using complex new bi-parental and multiparent populations of wild and domesticated beans of the Mesoamerican gene pool.

Contact: jcberny at ucdavis dot edu

Randi in GH713 cropped

Randi Jiménez, Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Student in the Van Deynze Lab

My project in the Seed Biotechnology Center involves discovering new sources of Geminivirus resistance, specifically Curly top virus, in wild chile pepper accessions (Capsicum sp.) and determining a reliable screening method for resistance. I am currently supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation, and I previously worked on cloning and characterizing transcription factors in tomato and tomato wild relatives for my MSc.  My goal is to integrate Curly top virus resistance into a cultivated pepper background and to have some understanding of the QTL underlying the resistance. After graduate school, I would like to have a professional career in crop improvement, particularly in horticultural crops.

Contact: rcjimenez at ucdavis dot edu

Timothy Butterfield

Timothy Butterfield, Plant Biology Graduate Student in the Dandekar Lab

My research focuses on phenylpropanoid biosynthesis, the impact of transferring phenylpropanoid biosynthesis genes from Juglans regia (English walnut) to Medicago sativa (alfalfa) via Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation __and the biological effects upon folivorous insects of ingesting novel phenylpropanoids such as tannins. Other, related interests include development of plant-derived pesticides to minimize deleterious impacts upon non-target species and safeguard surface and ground water quality for wildlife habitat and human consumption.

Contact: tsbutterfield at ucdavis dot edu


Nicolás Cobo, Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Student in the Dubcovsky Lab

I graduated from Universidad de Talca, Chile in 2010 as Agricultural Engineer (B.S in Agronomy). During my undergrad studies I worked in different projects related to physiology in fruit trees, grapevines and wheat. My undergrad thesis was focused in understanding the effect on leaf fluorescence and other leaf treats of the use of shading nets in blueberry production, as a tool to reduce light stress. After graduating I worked as a consultant in Fundación Chile (technology transference, extension), and then in charge of the R&D department AM Ecological, a company dedicated to environment friendly products to enhance soils and plant nutrition. In 2011 I got a Fulbright scholarship for a PhD. Currently I am a third year PhD candidate in the Horticulture & Agronomy graduate group, working in wheat breeding at the Dubcovsky Lab. My research focus in finding novel genes for stripe rust resistance, which can be introduced to current and new varieties especially in California.

Contact: ncobo at ucdavis dot edu

Brittany Hazard

Brittany Hazard, Genetics Graduate Student in the Dubcovsky Lab

I graduated from UC Davis in 2010 with a B.S. in Genetics. As an undergraduate I became interested in crop improvement and trait development while interning at Monsanto.  After graduating I worked as lab technician at Monsanto until starting graduate school.  I joined the Dubcovsky lab in 2011 where I began my Ph.D. research.   I am currently working with TILLING (Targeted Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) mutants in pasta and bread wheat to increase the amount of resistant starch (a component of dietary fiber) in the grain.

Contact: bahazard at ucdavis dot edu

Gena Hoffman

Gena Hoffman, Plant Biology Graduate Student in the Ronald Lab

I earned my B.A. in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley in 2010. My undergraduate research was conducted in the lab of Dr. Peggy Lemaux, where I worked towards increasing the digestibility of sorghum by overexpressing the key redox protein, Thioredoxin. My current project focuses on immune responses in rice as a model system for cereal crops. Plant and animal cells sense conserved microbial signatures via receptors on the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm. These protein sensors are often referred to as pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), which activate complex signaling networks resulting in resistance to pathogens. My research goal is to identify novel regulators of PRR-mediated immune responses in rice based on a genome-scale network of rice genes established by the Ronald lab, called RiceNet. I will identify and validate subnetworks (i.e. sets of genes) that mediate PRR-mediated immune responses in rice. Ultimately, my project will lead to the development of new strategies for engineering pathogen resistance in cereal crops. Personally, I am motivated to break the cycle of malnutrition and disease in developing countries by increasing access to proper nutrition, through plant breeding. Additionally, I work to increase public understanding of new agricultural technologies.

Contact: ghoffman at ucdavis dot edu

Erin Arms

Erin Arms, Genetics Graduate Student in St. Clair Lab

I graduated from the University of Washington in 2007 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in Anthropology. While at UW, I studied Yeast Metabolism in the Young Lab, Dept. of Biochemistry.  After graduation I worked as a research technician at the Center for Experimental Pathology at the University of Muenster, Germany before coming to UC Davis in 2009.  I am currently a fifth year PhD candidate in the Genetics graduate group working in the St. Clair lab, Dept. of Plant Sciences.  My dissertation work (in tomato) involves the characterization and mapping of traits associated with water stress tolerance introgressed from a related wild tomato species.  I am interested in science policy and advising, especially in the topics of agriculture, energy, and the environment.

Contact: emarms at ucdavis dot edu