Daniela Lourenco

Associate Professor at the University of Georgia

Daniela Lourenco is an Associate Professor in Animal Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics at the University of Georgia in the United States. She has been working in this field since 2004 and her current interests include the use of genomic information to increase rates of genetic progress, the development of methods for genomic evaluations, and the use of computational algorithms to analyze large data. Her research group has been working on genomic selection in beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, and fish. They have been involved in the development and implementation of single-step genomic evaluations for several breeding companies and breed associations. The software and algorithms developed by her group are being used for genomic evaluations around the world.

Xiaofeng Cao

Xiaofeng Cao, principle investigator at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, is a geneticist recognized for her work on epigenetic regulation in higher plants. She is known particularly for her studies on dynamic histone methylation, small RNA as well as arginine methylation controlling transposon activities govern genome stability and affecting genome-wide co-transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation during development.

Xiaofeng was born and grew up in Beijing, China. She has a bachelor’s in applied biochemistry from Peking University in 1988, a master’s in biochemistry from China Agricultural University in 1991, and a PhD from the College of Life Sciences, Peking University in 1997. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at Washington State University and a research associate at the University of California, Los Angeles. She became a PI in 2003 at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). She has led the Center for Genome Biology at IGDB and is the co-director of the Centre of Excellence for Plant and Microbial Science, jointly established by CAS and the John Innes Centre (UK). She was elected CAS Academician, a TWAS Fellow, a member of IEAS, and International member of National Academy of Sciences. She is a member of the National Committee of CPPCC.

Jack Dekkers

Dr. Jack Dekkers, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University focuses his research on quantitative and statistical genetics, including the integration of quantitative and molecular genetics and genomics for QTL mapping, genome-wide association studies, and genomic prediction and selection; design and economic aspects of breeding programs for livestock.

Appolinaire Djikeng

Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),
Senior Director, CGIAR Livestock-based systems.
Professor Appolinaire Djikeng is Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Senior Director for the Livestock-based systems of the CGIAR. At ILRI and the CGIAR he leads the premier global

Appolinaire has expertise and interest in Genomics with applications in agriculture (both animals and crops), Human and environmental health. Appolinaire serves on numerous science advisory boards and has received many awards including the Nelson Mandela Peace Award.

Prior to ILRI, Appolinaire was Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH) and based at the Roslin Institute and Chair for Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development at the University of Edinburgh. He has over 20 years’ research and institutional experience in academia and in international not for profit research institutions in the USA, Africa and UK.

Appolinaire is affiliated with The Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh (UK) as Professor, with the University of South Africa, College of Agriculture, and environmental science as Distinguished Professor, and with the University of Queensland, Center for Animal Science (Australia) and Honorary Professor.

Cathie Martin

Professor Cathie Martin is a Group Leader at the John Innes Centre and Fellow of the Royal Society.

research interests lie in using plant science to improve human diet and health.

She is particularly interested in biofortification and using plant metabolic engineering to enhance foods nutritionally.

Much of Cathie’s work has been undertaken in tomatoes, enriching their nutrient content with, for example, resveratrol and anthocyanin.

Cathie collaborates to test these enhanced foods in intervention studies and also undertakes studies into how these modified fruits have improved shelf-life and reduced susceptibility to grey mould, Botrytis cinerea.

  • Biofortification of fruit and vegetables for human health
  • Metabolic engineering to enhance phytonutrients such as anthocyanins and resveratrol
  • Improving the shelf-life of fruit and vegetables

Cathie and her group have recently been co-ordinating research into the relationship between diet and health, and how crops can be fortified to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. This work has involved linking leading clinical and epidemiological researchers with plant breeders and metabolic engineers to develop scientific understanding of how diet can help to maintain health, lead to healthy ageing and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

This has included research into plants which contain natural chemical compounds, some of which are seen as ‘natural medicines.’ Cathie is particularly interested in phenolic compounds present in fruit and vegetables which are considered to be the main ‘active ingredients’ of many ‘super foods’ and ‘super drinks’.

Cathie’s fundamental research has also focused on cellular specialisation and she was the first to identify genes regulating cell shaping in plants. She is currently investigating how specially shaped cells adapt plants to their environment.

Cathie is also interested in cellular specialisation in flowers (colour and cell shape) and how these traits are used by different plants for pollinator attraction.

She has also been involved in developing genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases such as konzo and neurolathyrism.

Alison Van Eenennaam

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis.  She received a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and both an MS in Animal Science, and a PhD in Genetics from UC Davis. Her publicly-funded research and outreach program focuses on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems. Her current research projects include the development of genome editing approaches for cattle. She serves as the bovine genome coordinator for the USDA National Animal Genome Research Program, and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has given over 650 invited presentations to audiences globally, and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology. She frequently provides a credentialed voice on controversial scientific topics, and has appeared on national media including The Dr Oz Show, NPR, Science Friday, and the Intelligence Squared debate series. She appeared in the 2017 documentary “Food Evolution” narrated by science-communicator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. A passionate advocate of science, Dr. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2010 National Award for Excellence in Extension, American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) 2014 National Extension Award, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) 2014 Borlaug Communication Award, University of California – Davis 2019 James H. Meyer Distinguished Career Achievement Award, and ASAS 2019 Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics.

Charlie Messina

Charlie Messina (PhD, University of Florida) is Professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at the University of Florida. His teaching and research program focuses on how to harmonize crop improvement and AI efforts for agricultural systems to regenerate the environment while providing nutrition security, improve human health and adapt to climate change. He leads a team that develops prediction methods by harnessing principles of crop science, dynamical systems modeling (symbolic AI), statistical learning (sub-symbolic AI) and complex systems theory. He collaborates with breeders, engineers, and agronomists to co-create systems within operational breeding programs.

Damaris Odeny

Damaris Odeny is a plant molecular breeder with global research experience cutting across Africa, Asia, Europe and USA. She has led and implemented genomics projects in both cereals and legumes, including the development of genomic resources in several orphan crops. Damaris works closely with other disciplines from national, private and international institutes to develop cutting edge genomic resources for all ICRISAT mandate crops (sorghum, pearl and finger millet, groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea) in her current role. Prior to this, she worked as a senior researcher at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), South Africa, where she played a key role in establishing molecular breeding processes for indigenous vegetables. Damaris is also passionate about mentoring of young upcoming scientists and has successfully mentored more than fifty scientists in her career to date.

Damaris earned her PhD in Plant Genetics (2006) from the University of Bonn (Germany) and completed a post-doctoral training from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in 2009 in Cologne, Germany.

Areas of expertise: Qualitative and quantitative genetics; Genetic mapping; Pre-breeding; Plant genetic engineering; Mutation breeding; Statistical genomics; High throughput genotyping and marker development; Next Generation Sequencing and data analysis; Transcriptome analysis; Metagenomics.