Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
Plant Breeding Academy
University of California
Plant Breeding Academy

Core Faculty and Staff

Rale Gjuric, Director of PBA
Dr. Rale Gjuric is Director of Education at the Seed Biotechnology Center.  He is the founder and president of HAPLOTECH Inc., a company specialized in technical services and consulting in plant breeding. Dr. Gjuric received his Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, Canada; his M.Sc. from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia; and his B.Sc. from the University of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Macedonia. Previously, he held the positions of Breeding Manager of DL Seeds; Research and Managing Director of DSV Canada; all in Winnipeg Canada. Dr. Gjuric is an accomplished plant breeder with numerous canola varieties and hybrids released in his 15 years in the private sector.  His current focus is in service to the plant breeding industry with special interest in organization and optimization of plant breeding programs.

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Rita Mumm Instructor
Dr. Rita Mumm brings a quarter century of experience in plant breeding and the seed industry. Dr. Mumm was a pioneer in developing and releasing some of the first transgenic traits in crops with DEKALB Genetics Corp, and in establishing a high-throughput molecular marker system to implement genomic information in seed product development. Her expertise is applied to maize quantitative genetics, applications of genomic information to the development of improved crop cultivars, and deployment of traits created through genetic engineering, including efficient breeding strategies and stewardship of governmentally regulated materials. Dr. Mumm was the founding director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center at the University of Illinois and now enjoys emerita status in the Department of Crop Science. In addition to faculty at the University of Illinois, Dr. Mumm is principal at GeneMax Services, a consulting firm to the seed industry. She is past president of the National Association of Plant Breeders and a named inventor on several U.S. patents, including one detailing the first glyphosate tolerant transgenic event in maize. Currently, she serves as a Board Trustee of CIMMYT.

Todd Wehner,  Instructor
Dr. Todd Wehner has been working on plant breeding at North Carolina State University since 1979.  He attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his A.B. in botany in 1975 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a M.S. in Agronomy and a Ph.D. in plant breeding and plant genetics in 1979.   Dr. Wehner took over the cucumber breeding and genetics project at North Carolina State University, Raleigh in 1979, and in 1993, he took on the additional responsibility for breeding and genetics research on watermelon and specialty melon. His research has emphasized improved selection methods; recurrent selection for fruit yield, earliness, quality and parthenocarpy; resistance to chilling, nematodes, foliar fungi; and germplasm evaluation to provide industry with new traits for the development of improved cultivars.

Idy van Leeuwen, Instructor, PBA in Europe
Idy van Leeuwen is the director of her company Breedwise BV, a professional training company for plant breeding in The Netherlands. In 1980 she obtained a Master of Science degree in Plant Breeding from Wageningen Agricultural University. She has extensive experience in organizing and teaching in courses and training in the seed sector in the Netherlands. Training is organized in the field of plant breeding, variety testing, statistics, seed quality, seed certification, biotechnology, pathology and legislation in the seed sector. Courses are organized in close cooperation with Naktuinbouw (Inspection Service), Wageningen University & Research Centre, and now the University of California at Davis. Idy also consults with government, breeding and research institutions in the fields of plant breeding methods, seed inspection, marketing, legislation and institutional development in Eastern Europe.

Dr. Iago Hale, Instructor, PBA in Africa

Dr. Iago Hale, an assistant professor of specialty crop improvement at the University of New Hampshire, USA, is inspired by the potential of plant breeding to enhance health, rural livelihoods, food security, and ecosystem integrity.  After studying Physics (B.A.) at Dartmouth College and living and working internationally for a number of years, including in East Africa, Dr. Hale attended the University of California - Davis, where he received his M.S. in International Agricultural Development and Ph.D. in Horticulture and Agronomy (Plant Breeding specialization).  His research activities are diverse and include pre-breeding (gene discovery and characterization) for rust resistance in wheat; breeding hardy kiwi cultivars (Actinidia spp.) for the northeastern United States and understanding their potential impact on the region's forests; and investigating the effects of domestication and dislocation from centers of origin on plant-associated microbial communities (model species: Phaseolus vulgaris).  Dr. Hale taught a graduate-level course on the design, analysis, and interpretation of experiments at UC Davis and looks forward to working with plant breeders from across Africa as they develop their programs through this academy.

Dr. J. Bruce Walsh, Instructor, PBA in Africa

Dr. Bruce Walsh is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, and Molecular and Cellular Biology.  He is a preeminent instructor in Genetics, coauthoring (along with Mike Lynch at Indiana) "Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits", one of the standard references on the application of quantitative genetics to breeding, evolutionary biology, and human genetics.  Over the past ten years, he has been invited to give short courses on advanced topics in quantitative and statistical genetics at many of the world's leading universities, including Wageningen, Edinburgh, Uppsala, Huazhong Agricultural University, Aarhus, Liege, Technical University of Munich, University of Helsinki, University of New England (NSW, Australia), and  Peking University. Additionally, he has been an instructor for over a decade at the Seattle Summer Institute of Statistical Genetics, training over 500 students at just this institute alone.

Allen Van Deynze, Co-founder of PBA
Dr. Allen Van Deynze is the Director of Research at 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 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 co-leader for the African Orphan Crops Consortium.

Kent Bradford, Co-founder of PBA
Dr. Kent J. Bradford is a Professor of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. Dr. Bradford received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Horticulture from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from UC Davis. He has been on the faculty at UC Davis since 1982, serving as Chair of the Department of Vegetable Crops from 1993 to 1998 and as Director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center since 1999. He teaches University and Extension courses on seed production and quality and received a Fulbright Scholar award in 1999 to teach in Argentina. He was awarded the career Seed Science Award from the Crop Science Society of America in 2002 and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003. Dr. Bradford’s research interests are in identifying the genetic and molecular mechanisms regulating seed germination, in applying mathematical models to describe seed germination and dormancy behavior, and in applying methods to enhance seed quality and longevity.

Joy Patterson, Program Representative
Ms. Patterson is the coordinator of the Plant Breeding Academy. She joined the Seed Biotechnology Center team in 2009 coming from the UC Davis Med Center where she was a resident coordinator for the otolaryngology department. She considers her students, as she did her medical residents, to be members of her extended family. With her background in agriculture, the Master Gardener program, and event planning, Joy brings a unique perspective to the PBA program.





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