Albert Culbreath

Albert Culbreath is a Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia, located at the Tifton Campus.  His research interests include epidemiology and management of Tomato spotted wilt virus and Cercospora and Cercosporidium leaf spots of peanut (Arachis hypogaea).  A key area of emphasis is development and utilization of peanut cultivars with resistance to one or more of these pathogens, and he collaborates closely with university and USDA peanut breeders and geneticists in efforts to develop multiple-disease-resistant cultivars.

Jane Dever

Jane Dever is Associate Professor and Cotton Breeder, Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Lubbock and Project Leader for the Cotton Improvement Program since September 2008. Major research focus is development of public cultivars, and screening exotic collections for relevant native traits to be used in breeding cotton. She is Principal Investigator for an integrative NIFA OREI grant, “Development of Cultivars and IPM Systems for Organic Cotton Production.”  Jane received a B.S. in Textile Engineering (1983), M.S. in Crop Science (1986) and Ph.D. in Agronomy (1989) all from Texas Tech University.

Prior to her Texas A&M System appointment, she was Bayer CropScience Global Cotton Breeding and Development Manager. She has served as coordinator, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service AgriPartners program (25% appointment); Senior Research Scientist, BioTex; Textile Engineer, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association; and Head of Materials Evaluation, Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University.  Jane is the Plains and Western chair of the National Cotton Variety Testing Committee, secretary of the CottonGEN database steering committee and served as Associate Editor – Cotton, Journal of Plant Registrations. She was appointed a scientific member of the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council in 2011; has served on the Joint Cotton Breeding Policy Committee and had many project management and strategic review responsibilities at Bayer. Jane is the recipient of the 2012 Cotton Genetics Research Award and the 2012 “Golden Hoe” award presented by the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative. She lives on a cotton, grain sorghum, and soybean farm northeast of Lubbock, TX and has been married to James Dever for 31 years.

R. Ford Denison

R. Ford Denison is the author of "Darwinian Agriculture" which argues that understanding evolutionary tradeoffs is key to crop improvement.  He has given invited and keynote talks throughout the US and in nine other countries. Other scientists cited his publications over 400 times in 2012, according to Google Scholar. Much of his research has focused on symbiosis between legumes and the root-nodule bacteria (rhizobia) that supply them with nitrogen. He and his students have also published papers explaining why the natural toxins plants make to defend themselves against insects (perhaps especially on organic farms) can be beneficial to human health, showing that competitive solar tracking by leaves can decrease whole-crop photosynthesis, explaining temporary yield decreases after switching to organic farming methods, documenting a new mechanism for bet-hedging in bacteria, and showing that simple multicellularity can evolve in only two weeks in the lab. He also co-invented devices to assess root-nodule function and to measure sunlight capture by field crops.

Less famous than some other Harvard dropouts, he studied ecology at the Evergreen State College and earned a PhD in Crop Science from Cornell University. After postdoctoral research at UC Davis and UCLA, he did lab and field research with USDA for several years, before returning to UC Davis as a faculty member. There, he taught crop ecology and directed LTRAS, a 72-acre long-term experiment on agricultural sustainability and resource-use efficiency. Meanwhile, his research on nitrogen-fixing crops developed an increasingly evolutionary focus. Soon after promotion to full professor, he took early retirement and moved to Minnesota, where his wife had been a faculty member for many years.

At the University of Minnesota, he is an Adjunct Professor in Ecology & Evolution, mostly mentoring students. He is also a Fellow in the College of Agriculture, advising Minnesota's 3-site long-term agricultural research network.

Major Goodman

Dr. Major Goodman is a William Neal Reynolds and Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University in the Department of Crop Science. Major is a native of Johnston, Iowa. He holds a BS in Math (Iowa State – National Merit Scholarship), and both a MS (H.F. Robinson, corn) and PhD (S.G. Stephens, cotton) in Genetics from North Carolina State.  Major was an NSF Postdoc in Piracicaba, Brazil where he studied races of corn. In 1967, Major returned to his alma mater where he joined the Department of Statistics and in 1983, he moved over to his current department, Crop Science. Major has advised 15 PhD students, 4 MS students, and his post docs have included: Peter Bretting, John Doebley, J. Stephen, C. Smith, Randy Holley, Jesus Sanchez G., and Fernando Castillo G. An interesting fact about Major is that he has never actually taken a graduate course in Plant Breeding, but learned some of the tricks of the trade while working for 9 consecutive summers at Pioneer.

Humberto Rios Labrada

Humberto Ríos Labrada is currently the Latin America Representative for the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA; where he continues his focus on interdisciplinary and participatory approaches to capacity building and agroecological innovation for small holder farmers. He is currently based in Bolivia where he advises the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation financed project “El Programa de Innovación Contínua.”  Humberto holds a BSc. in Agronomy and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences, and was a lecturer of plant breeding and experimental design for 12 years in Cuba.

Prior to joining ICRA, Humberto coordinated the Agricultural Local Innovation Program (PIAL) at the National Institute of Agricultural Science in Cuba from 2001 to 2011. During this time he initiated and expanded farmer participatory systems for the promotion and enhancement of crop agrobiodiversity. This program has resulted in significant increases in food production and now includes the participation of more than 50,000 farmers. His efforts, innovative approach, and success lead to his receipt of the Goldman Environmental Prize ( in 2010.

Humberto loves agriculture, writing, and music, and has written and produced a novel and several albums of folk-music that celebrate human relationships with agrobiodiversity.

Mark Sorrells

Mark E. Sorrells received his PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1978 and then joined the faculty at Cornell University in the Department of Plant Breeding & Biometry. Since 1991 he has been Professor of Plant Breeding and since 2006 he has been Chair of the Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics.

The primary focus of Dr. Sorrells’ research program is on breeding methodologies and the development of small grains varieties. His breeding program has released 16 small grains varieties. Currently the focus of his research is optimizing genomic selection strategies. He has published 260 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American Society of Agronomy. Dr. Sorrells has served as major advisor to 37 PhD students, 9 M.S. graduate students and minor advisor to 22 students.

Edith T. Lammerts van Bueren

Professor Organic Plant Breeding , Louis Bolk Institute and Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Edith T. Lammerts van Bueren has more than 25 years of experience in organic research and management. She is a pioneer in plant breeding and genetic resources for organic and low-input agriculture and has put this subject to the European agenda. She holds a chair at Wageningen University in the Netherlands as professor Organic Plant Breeding since March 2005. She is also senior researcher Organic Plant Breeding at the Louis Bolk Institute in the Netherlands, a research institute specialized in organic agriculture, health care and nutrition. Edith was co-founder and has been chair of the European Consortium for Organic Plant Breeding (ECO-PB) for 10 years, and is now chair of the Section Organic and Low-input Agriculture of EUCARPIA (European Association for Research for Plant Breeding). Among several PhD research projects of which many on developing selection tools for breeding for nutrient efficiency and improved root systems, she also coordinates a participatory organic potato breeding program with main focus on late blight resistance. Through supervising master students she became involved in setting up participatory cotton breeding in Uganda, and became involved in the Organic Cotton Seed Taskforce of Textile Exchange. She aims at building bridges between existing expertise among both farmer breeders and professional breeders, and incorporating efforts of other stakeholders towards chain-based or community-based breeding models

Jared Zystro

Jared Zystro is OSA's California research and education specialist. He has a master’s degree in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin. Jared has worked in the organic seed industry for over 10 years, managing seed production at two farms and conducting research and education projects with OSA. In his work at OSA, he manages OSA's regional development in California, conducts participatory breeding projects and variety trials, and teaches farmers about seed production and plant breeding at workshops, conferences and field days.