University of Florida

UF Plant Breeding Students Worldwide

UF/IFAS plant breeders are actively involved in training the next generation of highly skilled plant breeders. A recent survey of students trained by UF/IFAS plant breeders revealed that since 1990 over 70 Master of Science and over 90 Ph.D. students received degrees in the UF/IFAS plant breeding program with current M.S. and Ph.D. student numbers at about 45. Many of these students have gone on to fill productive and innovative plant breeding programs in the public and private sector in the USA and internationally. Examples of current positions of some UF/IFAS plant breeding graduates are given below, listed below by the major professor that they studied under at UF


Dr. Fredy Altpeter

·    Dr. Je Hyeong Jung, Senior Scientist, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Korea

·    Dr. Sukhpreet Sandhu, Scientist Bayer Crop Science, USA

·    Dr. Jianping Xu, Scientist, Monsanto, USA

·    Dr. Gabriela Luciani, Scientist, Monsanto, Argentina

·    Marco Sinche, Professor at Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Quito, Ecuador

·    Isaac Neibaur, Senior Research Associate at Du Pont Pioneer, China

·    Yogesh Taparia, Research Associate at Du Pont Pioneer, India


Dr. Ann Blount

·    Dr. Carlos Acuna is a professor and forage breeder at UNNE Corrientes, Argentina


Dr. José Chaparro

·    Dr. Omar Carrillo is a strawberry breeder at Driscolls, Watsonville, CA

·    Dr. Dario Chavez is an extension specialist  and peach breeder and at the University of Georgia, Griffin


Dr. Dave Clark

·    Dr. Michael Schwieterman is a biochemist at Driscolls, Watsonville, CA

·    Dr. Jessica Gilbert is a blueberry breeder at Driscolls, Watsonville, CA

·    Dr. Penny Nguyen is a strawberry breeder at Driscolls, Watsonville, CA

·    Dr. Thomas Colquhoun is an Assistant Professor in the UF-Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL

·    Dr. Beverly Underwood is a GenBank Biologist at ComputerCraft Corporation

·    Jason Jandrew is an ornamental breeder at Ball Horticultural Company


Dr. Zhanao Deng

·    Dr. David Czarnecki is working as a flower breeder at Ernst Benary of America, Inc. in California

·    Dr. Sarah Smith is working as a squash breeder at HM Clause in California


Dr. Salvador A. Gezan

·    Dr. Lazarus Mramba is working on the Medical Genetics at the University of Florida

Dr. Fred Gmitter

·    Dr. Kim Bowman is a citrus rootstock breeder with th

·    Dr. Yulin Jia is a Lead Scientist/Research Plant Molecular Pathologist with the USDA-ARS.

·    Dr. Zeynel Dalkilic is an Associate Professor at the Adnan Menderes University, in Turkey.


Dr. Jude Grosser

·    Dr. Cristina Moreira: Associate Professor of Biology, Interim Chair of the Biology Department and LSAMP Project Director at Bennett College (North Carolina). She is also the Creator and Project Director of the “Sisters & Brothers-in-Science” partnership between Bennett College, the Early/Middle College at Bennett and Aycock Middle School.

Dr. Kevin Kenworthy

·    Dr. Brian Schwartz is an Associate Professor of turfgrass breeding at the University of Georgia, Tifton, GA.

Dr. James Olmstead

·    Dr. Rachel Itle (2010, PhD) is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Georgia.

·    Silva Marion (2012, MS) is currently a PhD student working with Dr. Mark Ritenour at UF-IRREC.

·    Dr. Kendra Blaker (2013, PhD) is currently a smal fruit breeder for Plant Sciences, Inc. in Watsonville, CA.

·    Catherine Cellon (2015, MS) is currently an assistant celery breeder for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Florida.

·    Dr. Jessica Gilbert (2015, PhD) is currently the molecular blueberry breeder at Driscoll's in Watsonville, CA.

·    Dr. Hilda Patricia Rodriguez-Armenta (2015, PhD) is currently a blueberry breeder at Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in Ciudad Guzman, Mexico.

·    Dr. Gerardo Nunez (2015, PhD) is currently a lecturer for the Horticultural Sciences Dept. at the University of Florida.

Dr. Gary Peter

·    Dr. Xiaobo Li is the North American Breeding Data Lead with Monsanto, St. Louis, MO.

·    Dr. Patricia Munoz is an Assistant Professor and blueberry breeder in Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida.

·    Dr. Jianxing Zhang is Assistant Vice President, Compliance Quantitative Operations Associate, Bank of America.

Dr. Ken Quesenberry

·    Dr. Ananta Acharya is a Bioinformatics Scientist at Down AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN.

·    Dr. Ann Blount is a Professor of forage breeding at the University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center at Marianna, FL.

·    Dr. Marcelo Carvalho is a forage breeder/germplasm manager at EMBRAPA, Brasilia, Brazil.

·    Dr. Linana Jank is a forage breeder with EMBRAPA, Campo Grande, Brazil.

·    Dr. Christopher Kouame is Senior Scientist and Country Director at Worl Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF, Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

·    Dr. Yuyu Poreba is a plant breeder with the Research Center for Biology, Indonesia Institute of Science (LIPI), Jalan Raya Jakarta Bogor Km. 46, Cibinong 16911, Indonesia.

·    Dr. Steven G. Taylor, Integrated Crop Technical Manager for Syngenta in Greensboro, NC.  Steven’s responsibilities include early stage product development and the development of innovative solutions for growers that combine Syngenta products with emerging, adjacent technologies.  Prior to that, Steven was Agronomy Manager for Syngenta’s winter breeding nursery in Hawaii.

Dr. Jay Scott

·    Dr. Jan Barten is a tomato breeder and station director with DeRuiter Seeds (Monsanto) in Almeria Spain.  Her varieties are having major impact on both field and greenhouse production in Spain and surrounding countries.

·    Dr. Cheryl Emmons is an Associate Professor of Biology at Alfred University in New York State.  She has numerous teaching responsibilities and directs undergraduate research projects.

·    Dr. Phillip Griffiths is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at Cornell University located at the Geneva Station.  He conducts breeding and genetic studies on crucifers and beans as well as teaches breeding classes.

·    Dr. Nikolaos Georgelis is a Biochemistry Scientist Manager at JR Simplot Plant Sciences.

·    Dr. Samuel Hutton is an Assistant Professor working on tomato breeding and genetics at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.  He fills the DiMare Endowed Chair position.

Dr. Barry Tillman

·    Dr. Jorge Baldessari is the peanut breeder at the Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria (INTA) in Argentina.

·    Dr. Steven Thronton is a maize breeder with Dupont/Pioneed in Mississippi, USA.

Dr. Vance Whitaker

·    Dr. Alan Chambers, who was the first PMBI student of Dr. Kevin Folta and Whitaker is a tropical fruit geneticist at University of Florida Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, FL.

·    Dr. Jozer Mangandi is a blueberry breeder for Berry Blue Farms, Plant City, FL.