Cassandra Bullock-Bent

   |  cmbullock [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a M.S. student in Horticulture and Agronomy studying in Dr. Andrew Walker’s lab at UC Davis. Our lab focuses on classical breeding in primarily rootstocks and wine grapes. Our rootstock breeding program researches resistances to abiotic stress, viruses, nematodes, and phylloxera. My research contribution evaluates salinity tolerance in grapevine rootstocks, which is a quantitative trait that shows a high degree of environmental variability. I study salt tolerance by means of root phenotyping, quantifying chloride accumulation in leaf tissue, and refining current phenotyping assays. I received my B.S. in Plant Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona, where I developed my research skills by working in Dr. Still’s lettuce breeding lab as well as participating in the Asian Citrus Psyllid Student Research Symposium. I feel passionate about education in science and plan to use my experiences to promote a healthy environment of communication between industry, academia, and the general public.

Gitanshu Munjal

   |   gmunjal [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a graduate student researcher working under Dr. E. Charles Brummer. The overall goal of my graduate work is to assess the genetic control of autumn dormancy in alfalfa. I am using selection mapping and predictive approaches in combination with genome-wide polymorphism data to identify and validate useful markers across multiple genetic backgrounds. I received my B.S. in Plant Sciences here at UC Davis and gained experience working in the labs of Dr. Ross-Ibarra and Dr. Zakharov as well as the Tomato Genetics Resource Center. Beyond current work, my academic interests include developing and applying cost-effective tools for breeding. I hope to return home (India) following my graduate studies and start a progressive breeding program there.

Juliya Abbasi

jabbasi [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a second year graduate student in Jan Dvorak’s lab. I am an AIP scholar and my research work focuses on genetics of perenniality in wheatgrasses by developing wheat- wheatgrass amphiploids. Before coming to Davis, I completed my B Sc (Hons.) and Masters in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Arid Agriculture University, Pakistan

Marwa Zafarullah

   |   mzafarullah [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am second year MS student in the Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group and a member of Dr. Luca Comai’s Lab at UC Davis. I am investigating the evolutionary relationship between two centromere proteins Cenh3 and CENPC in Arabidopsis thaliana. I am also studying the effect of divergence in the Nterminal tail of Cenh3 protein by using chimeras between Zea mays and Arabidopsis thaliana. I earned my bachelor’s in Agriculture Sciences from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Pakistan and graduated first in my class. After passing a competitive examination, I received a scholarship from the Agriculture Innovation Program of USAID to pursue my master’s at UC Davis. Currently, I have also been a member of the Chancellor’s Graduate and Professional Student Advisory Board (CGPSA) at UC Davis since 2015. I am also a Graduate Student Association Representative (GSA) from Integrative Genetics and Genomics Student Executive Committee 2017. I recently joined Status of Women at Davis, Administrative Advisory Committee (2017).

Mitchell Feldmann

   |   mjfeldmann [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a doctoral student of horticulture and agronomy in the Strawberry Breeding and Research program at UC Davis. I completed my BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in mathematics at the University of Arizona under Dr. Noah Whiteman, where I discovered a passion for biological research. My scientific interests include quantitative and evolutionary genetics in relation to plant breeding and crop improvement. My current projects include the evaluation of heterosis, theoretical evaluations of QTL heritability estimates, and, in the future, genomic selection in the cultivated strawberry.

Randi Famula

rafamula [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a second year M.S. student in Horticulture and Agronomy with Dr. David Neale at UC Davis. The research emphasis of the Neale lab is the development of tree breeding technologies and tree genomics. Recently our lab has published the Walnut reference genome as the first step towards marker assisted selection in the Walnut Improvement Program here at UC Davis. My research focuses on identifying markers associated with water use efficiency traits in the founders of the breeding program. I received my B.S. in Biotechology from UC Davis. Apart from my research, I am dedicated to science communication and the promotion of science literacy.

Sara Montanari

smontanari [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a Post-Doctoral Scholar in David Neale lab working in the Pear Genomics Project. My research area of interest is in quantitative genetics and genomics, plant breeding and marker-assisted-selection in fruit tree crops. In particular, my research focuses on studying the existing diversity of pear, to unravel the genetic architecture of important phenotypic traits and understand the underlying biological mechanisms, elucidate the evolutionary history of this ancient crop and develop genetics tools, such as genotyping array, to be used by pear scientists and breeders. The final purpose of my research is the enhancement of marker-assisted selection in pear, aimed at the development of new high quality cultivars with improved agronomic features, such as resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, and dwarfing rootstocks. I obtained my PhD in molecular biology at the University of Angers (France). I worked mainly on genetic mapping of pest and disease resistances in pear, within a tri-lateral collaboration among INRA of Angers (France), Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy), and Plant & Food Research (New Zealand). I joined UC Davis in September 2015.

Scott Newell

sanewell [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

I am a Masters student in Horticulture and Agronomy studying plant breeding and genetics. My research work in Dr. E. Charles Brummer's lab involves assessing the potential application of genetic fingerprinting to alfalfa varieties, as well as the evaluation of new germplasm for introgression into a developing UC Davis alfalfa breeding program. I completed my B.S. in Agronomy with an emphasis on plant breeding at Iowa State University, finding an interest in plant breeding and bioinformatics.

Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra

   |   rossibarra [at] ucdavis [dot] edu

Jeff is a Professor and Section Chair in the Department of Plant Sciences. He also holds affiliations with The Center for Population Biology and The Genome Center at UC Davis. His lab works on the evolutionary genetics of maize and teosinte. He has served as the faculty advisor to the UC Davis Plant Breeding Symposium since its inception 6 years ago.