Plant Breeding Club Symposiums

2019 Plant Breeding Symposium, February 6, 2020, at Talley Student Union

2020 Plant Breeding Symposium

Thanks for attending the 5th Biennial Plant Breeding Symposium. The event was held in the Talley Student Union at NC State University on February 6th, 2020 from 8 AM to 5:30 PM. Free registration included lunch thanks to our generous sponsors.

Recorded Presentations



Jimena Davis, Syngenta

Jimena leads the global Modeling Group in Analytics and Data Sciences at Syngenta, located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Her current team enables data-driven decision support by combining applied mathematics and data science capabilities for the design, development, and placement of crop solutions. Jimena earned her Ph.D. from NCSU in Computational and Applied Mathematics in 2008. Prior to that, she received a B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Clemson University. Jimena spent four years at the US Environmental Protection Agency as a Mathematical Statistician in the National Center for Computational Toxicology, where she focused on developing mathematical and statistical models for uncertainty analysis of risk assessments. She joined Syngenta in 2012 as a Senior Computational Biologist modeling plant biological pathways to support gene candidate discovery for plant traits and breeding projects in multiple crops.

Dawn Fraser, Bayer

Dr. Dawn Fraser is originally from Scotland, she studied Crop and Soil Science at Edinburgh University before completing a Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University working with Dr. Paul Shoemaker and Dr. Randy Gardner. She earned her PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Pathology under Dr. Paul Murphy. After graduating Dr. Fraser worked as a cotton breeder with Delta and Pine Land Company in Hartsville, South Carolina, developing commercial cotton varieties for the Upper Southeastern US. In 2015, she became a Commercial Development Breeder for Monsanto responsible for developing and selecting commercial soybean and cotton varieties for the Southeastern US. She is continuing this role with Bayer Cropscience and has more than 20 patents for commercial cotton varieties, many of which are currently in the Deltapine portfolio of products.

Laura Mayor, Corteva

Dr. Mayor completed her BS in Agronomy and MS in Genetics at the University of Rosario in Argentina. She earned her PhD at Iowa State University in Plant Breeding. She started at DuPont Pioneer as a Molecular Breeding Scientist in corn for the Southeast of the US and moved into sorghum molecular breeding in 2011 to establish and deploy a molecular breeding strategy for this crop. Since 2013 she has been responsible for the sorghum breeding project located in Manhattan, KS. Over the three years her responsibilities were extended to Evaluation Zone lead for this crop that includes developing and planning a breeding strategy for the Eastern Kansas and High Plains sorghum markets covering the Manhattan, KS and Plainview, TX research stations. Major breeding focus of the evaluation zone are improved yield, stalk strength, sugarcane aphid tolerance and cold tolerance using new phenotyping and molecular technologies available.


Robin Buell

C. Robin Buell, Professor

MSU Foundation Professor & William J Beale Distinguished Faculty
Director, Plant Resilience Institute
Department of Plant Biology
Michigan State University

Dr. C. Robin Buell received her Ph.D. from Utah State University in 1992 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the DOE Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University, followed by a USDA and then a NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Plant Biology in Stanford, CA.  In 1997, she accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. In 1999, she joined the faculty at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD where she remained until 2007 when she joined the Department of Plant Biology at MSU. Her research is focused on the genome biology of plants and plant pathogens, including comparative genomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Her research involves crop plants (corn, rice, potato, sweetpotato), biofuels (switchgrass), and medicinal/herbal plants (periwinkle, mints, nightshade, ginseng, Camptotheca) while her work with plant pathogens has focused primarily on bacteria and oomycetes.  She was a central member of the consortium that generated the rice genome sequence, a crop that feeds 50% of the world’s population every day, and developed a public database for rice researchers that receives over two million visits each year from scientists across the world. From her work on medicinal plants, she developed and maintains the Medicinal Plant Genomics Resource that has enabled discoveries in natural product biosynthesis.  Currently, she maintains Spud DB, a database focused on potato genomic datasets, and the Maize Genome Resource for gene expression mining in maize. She has received funding from NSF, USDA, DOE, NIH, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published over 200 papers. Dr. Buell has an active research group composed of postdoctoral research fellows, research assistants, graduate students, undergraduate students and high school interns and collaborates with scientists across the United States and throughout the world. She has served as an editor at Plant Physiology, the Plant Genome, Crop Science, Frontiers in Plant Genetics and Genomics, and Plant Cell. She has served as an advisor to several large plant genome research consortia and the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement for Science and the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Jack Dekkers

Jack Dekkers

Jack grew up in the Netherlands and received B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in animal science from the Wageningen Agricultural University and a Ph.D. in dairy science with a focus on animal breeding and genetics from the University of Wisconsin. From 1989 to 1997 he was on faculty at the University of Guelph, working closely with the Canadian industry on genetic improvement of dairy cattle. He moved to Iowa State University in 1997, where he currently is a C.F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor and Leader of the Animal Breeding and Genetics group. Current research focuses on the genetic basis and improvement of feed efficiency and health in pigs and poultry and on the integration of quantitative and molecular genetics and genomics in animal breeding programs. Jack was the recipient of the J.L. Lush and Rockefeller Prentice Awards in Animal Breeding from the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science in 2004 and 2007.

Chris Reberg-Horton

Chris Reberg-Horton

Chris is a Professor at North Carolina State University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. He was raised in Fairview, a small mountain community in western North Carolina. He obtained his B.S. from the University of North Carolina, his M.S. from the University of California at Davis in Agronomy and his PhD from North Carolina State University. As an agronomist with both research and extension responsibilities, he develops recommendations for organic production of corn, soybeans and wheat. His past works include the development of reduced tillage methods for organic crops, breeding cover crops for the southern region, and greenhouse gas emissions from organic and conventional farming systems. He is past-Chair of the Organic Community with the American Society of Agronomy, state coordinator for the SARE professional development program, Past-Chair of the Southern Cover Crop Council, and serves as the Assistant Director of Research at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems in Goldsboro, N.C. His most recent work seeks to put better cover crop tools in the hand of farmers. Working with USDA breeders in hairy vetch, crimson clover, and winter peas, Chris is developing regionally adapted cover crop varieties better suited to farmer needs. His work also includes breeding allopathic cereal rye as a cover crop. As new breeding lines are developed, they will be tested on farms so that farmers can advise the researchers on which lines they prefer. In other current cover crop research, Chris works on over 40 private farms in the Eastern United States, using newly engineered soil moisture sensors to model the effects of cover crops on surface and deep soil water availability. With his extensive research in cover crops, he is collaborating on the development of a web-based decision support tool that will provide specific information to farmers like cover crop seeding rate, economics, and nutrient and water management.

Hale Ann Tufan

Hale Ann Tufan

International Programs, Cornell University, United States

Hale completed her PhD at the John Innes Centre, and worked for CIMMYT, University of East Anglia School of International Development. Her current work focuses on building gender responsive agricultural research systems, as principle investigator of the Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation project, as well as leading participatory breeding and gender research work with the NextGen Cassava project.


The application for the graduate student travel awards is now closed. Congratulations to Christopher Mujjabi and Selena Lopez the recipients of the 2020 Travel Award to the Plant Breeding Symposium at NC State! We look forward to their poster presentations during the symposium reception.

Past Symposiums:

The PDF resources below provide symposium details including the schedule, presenters, access to their online presentations, and sponsors.