AfPBA Instructors and Staff
Instructors: Primary instructors will teach the core of the course and speakers who are specialists in specific topics will be invited. All are recognized leaders in their fields.
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.
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 (research: redwood forest ecology) in 1975 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a M.S. in Agronomy (research on snap peas) and a Ph.D. in plant breeding and plant genetics (research on leafless peas) 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. He was an advisor for production of pickling cucumber in Sri Lanka in 1993, watermelon in China in 1999, and cucurbit seed collection in Zimbabwe in 2001. He led expeditions to collect germplasm from China in 1994, the Republic of South Africa in 1996, and Turkmenistan in 2008.
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. 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.
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.
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. Allen received a BSc. and MSc. degree in plant sciences from the University of Manitoba, Canada and his Ph. D. in plant breeding from the University of Guelph, Canada. He did a postdoctorate in molecular genetics at Cornell University in the Dept. of Plant Breeding and Biometry. Allen worked as a plant breeder for Calgene/Monsanto and Senior Scientist for Celera AgGen where he developed and implemented strategies to incorporate genomics and biotechnology into breeding programs. 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 educational and outreach programs. His research focuses on developing and integrating genomics into plant breeding of California crops. He has programs on cotton, lettuce, carrot, spinach, tomato, potato and particularly improving disease resistance and quality in pepper. 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 working on Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and US Regulations for Biotechnology. He is an instructor for the African Plant Breeding Academy and scientific co-leader for the African Orphan Crops Consortium.
As a Program Manager with the Seed Biotechnology Center, Julie brings a diverse professional background encompassing both biological science research and computer/design technology. After receiving a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Nevada and postdoctoral positions at the Universities of Nevada and Minnesota, she pursued a long-held interest in web technology. In 2002 she launched web site design and management sole proprietorship TillSey Web Design, where she developed and managed web sites for clients throughout northern California. Since joining the SBC in 2015, she has provided the center with general computer and technology support, including graphic/print design, web site management, videography, and photography. She also assists center staff with event, course, and conference coordination and management.