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Plant Breeding Stakeholder Meeting

USDA Plant Breeding Stakeholder Meeting

USDA Leadership Opening Comments

Overview of USDA Plant Breeding Activities

Keynote Speakers Focusing on Breeding Topics in Relation to the USDA Science Blueprint and Ag Innovation Agenda

Breakout Sessions

NOTE: Stakeholder Comments can be made at the following website:

LIVE Interactive Session, Meeting Summary, and Next Steps

Takeaways and Summarized Stakeholder Comments from the Meeting

Keynote and Breakout Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Larry Purcell, University of Arkansas

Larry Purcell received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agronomy from the University of Georgia. Following his Master’s degree, Larry worked as a county extension agent and then as a technician in the soybean breeding and physiology programs at the University of Georgia. He completed his PhD program in Agronomy in 1992 from the University of Florida and has been at the University of Arkansas since 1993. He is currently a Distinguished Professor and holds the Altheimer Chair for Soybean Research. Larry’s research interests include optimizing the efficiency with which crops use essential resources of light, water, and nutrients through management and genetic strategies.

Ed Buckler, USDA-ARS

Edward S. Buckler is a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist and adjunct professor in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University with an educational background in molecular evolution and archaeology. His group's research uses genomic, computational, and field approaches to dissect complex traits and accelerate breeding in maize, sorghum, cassava, and a wide range of other crops. With these technologies applied to over 2000 species, now the Buckler group focuses on exploring ways to re-engineer global agricultural production systems to ensure food security, improve nutrition, and respond to climate change. With the USDA-ARS, he leads an informatics and genomics platform to help accelerate breeding for specialty crops and animals. His contributions to quantitative genetics and genomics were recognized with election to the US National Academy of Sciences and as recipient of the inaugural NAS Food and Agriculture Award.

Geoff Graham, Corteva

Geoff Graham is responsible for all global breeding activities at Corteva. In this role, he leads the breeding efforts in alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, millet, rice, sorghum, soybean, sunflower and wheat products worldwide. The breeding team is focused on clear local product delivery targets with local accountability and decision making, while leveraging global technologies and ideas to improve practices to all Corteva breeding programs world-wide. In 2000, Geoff joined Pioneer as a Research Scientist aimed at incorporating new technologies into breeding. He has held numerous roles over the years leading teams in Molecular Breeding, North America Maize Product Development, Americas Maize Product Development, and Hybrid Crops Lead. During his career, he has focused on developing and deploying new technologies into applied breeding programs delivering improved productivity for grower worldwide. Geoff earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy followed by a Master of Science degree in genetics and plant breeding from the University of Minnesota. He then earned his Ph.D. in genetics and plant breeding from North Carolina State University.

Zach Lippman, Cold Springs Harbor

Zachary Lippman, Professor of Plant Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. Zach Lippman’s research focuses on the processes of flowering and flower production in nature and agriculture. His research program integrates genetics, development, genomics, and genome editing to understand how plant stem cells achieve reproductive states to produce flowers. Taking advantage of natural and induced variation in inflorescence production and architecture in tomato and related Solanaceae species, Lippman studies how differences in stem cell proliferation and maturation explain the diversity in vegetative and reproductive shoot systems. Elucidating the genes and mechanisms underlying this diversity have led to broader exploration on the roles of structural variation, gene regulation, and epistasis in development, domestication, and breeding. Based on these discoveries, Lippman is developing and applying innovative concepts and tools for crop improvement.

Chris Fettig, US Forest Service

Chris serves as a Research Entomologist at the Pacific Southwest Research Station in Davis, California. His research focuses on how biophysical factors influence the function and productivity of forest ecosystems; quantifying and predicting ecosystem responses to environmental stressors; and developing knowledge and tools for restoring, sustaining, and enhancing forest health and productivity. Chris has published over 200 papers on a variety of forest health-related issues and concerns, and serves on the editorial boards of Forest Science, Forest Ecology and Management, Forests, Journal of Economic Entomology, and The Canadian Entomologist.

Maeli Melotto, University of California, Davis

Dr. Maeli Melotto is an Associate Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. She has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Michigan State University. Her research is focused on understanding the interactions between plants and microbes, with emphasis on bacterial pathogens of plants and humans. Her primary research goals include: a) dissect the molecular and biological functions of plant proteins and bacterium factors that determine the outcome of the plant pathosystem (i.e. resistance/susceptibility to infections); b) uncover the molecular strategies used by the human pathogens, Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli O157:H7, to colonize leafy vegetables; and c) integrate plant health and soil health to inform agricultural management decisions.

Fan Li Chou, American Seed Trade Assoc.

Fan-Li Chou is the Vice President for Scientific Affairs and Policy at the American Seed Trade Association, where she leads ASTA initiatives on plant breeding innovation, intellectual property rights, domestic and international regulatory policies. Prior to ASTA, Fan-Li served at USDA for over 10 years, including as the Agricultural Biotechnology Advisor to the Office of the Secretary and in positions with the Foreign Agricultural Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She is an accomplished policy and program leader, with expertise in agricultural biotechnology regulatory, trade issues, and multilateral negotiations.

Breakout Speakers

Clem Weidenbenner, KG Agri Products, Inc

Clem Weidenbenner is the Research & Development Manager for KG Agriproducts (KAPI) in Marysville, OH. KAPI is a food grade soybean processor and exporter. Dr. Weidenbenner directs the soybean breeding program for the company which now relies on proprietary genetics in all product categories. The group’s very high seed protein plus oil varieties now lead the industry where opportunities for new applications in aquaculture feeds, and very high protein meals are gaining attention. His formal training in Agronomy and Plant Breeding began at Western Illinois University and continued at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is a past Chairman of the Commercial Soybean Breeders, and a former board member of the NCCPB (National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders). He has worked with the Ohio Soybean Council, GrowNextGen, and the Marysville, OH FFA. He a member of AAAS, Alpha Zeta, and Sigma Xi.

Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin

Bill Tracy is the Clif Bar Family Foundation - Organic Valley Professor of Organic Plant Breeding. He has served for 14 years as chair of the department and interim dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences for 14 months. He is currently chair of the agroecology program. Bill’s group, Team Sweet, has developed sweet corn varieties that are grown commercially on every arable continent. Bill’s research focuses on genetics and modification of endosperm starch biosynthesis, and the genetics of pest resistance. He also does research on breeding under organic systems. Bill has mentored more than 40 graduate students, most of whom now work in commercial plant breeding. In 2014 Bill received the Genetics and Plant Breeding Award from the National Association of Commercial Plant Breeders. Bill was elected a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America in 2018 He was a co-organizer of a recent symposium on Intellectual Property Rights in Public Plant Breeding. He is chair of the Maize Crop Germplasm Committee and currently serves on the board of directors of Oregon Tilth.

Allen Van Deynze, 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 biotic and abiotic stress and quality in pepper and spinach, and development and application of genomics in crops. He co-developed and is organizer/instructor for the Plant Breeding Academysm and professional classes in plant breeding and genomics. He is the past chair of the US Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee and has been directly involved in International and National policy including US Regulations for Biotechnology and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. He is an instructor for the African Plant Breeding Academy; Scientific Director for the African Orphan Crops Consortium, and was an advisor to founding of African Plant Breeders Association.

Rob Griesbach, USDA-ARS

Rob Griesbach earned a Ph.D. in genetics from Michigan State University in 1980. The following year, he joined USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). In 2007, Rob joined the USDA-ARS Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) as the Technology Transfer Coordinator for the Beltsville Area. In this position, he was responsible for negotiating technology transfer agreements and for providing advice to the 250 scientists within the Beltsville Area. In 2010, Rob became the OTT Deputy Assistant Administrator. In this position, he coordinates programs to optimize the transfer of research results across USDA-ARS to the private sector and other users for development and commercialization. Rob also provides leadership and policies advice for the management of the Agency’s intellectual property.