Prof. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda is a recognized leader, practicing farmer and esteemed policy advisor with a career spanning 30 years. She currently serves as Director and Chair of the African Research Universities Alliance – Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems (ARUA-SFS) at the University of Pretoria. Prof. Sibanda is also the incoming Research Chair for Sustainable Food Systems at the Future Africa Institute, University of Pretoria. She is also hosted by the University’s Centre of Advancement of Scholarship as a Senior Research Fellow.
I work with the design of breeding schemes, including marker-assisted and genomic selection schemes, and with QTL mapping. I also work with the management of genetic variation, i.e. managing inbreeding, both at the level of relationship and at the genomic level.
Dr. Leena Tripathi is the Director of Eastern Africa Hub and Leader of the Biotechnology Program at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). She is leading the transgenic and gene-editing research at IITA. She has been involved in plant biotechnology research for more than 25 years, with specific interests in crop improvement.
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.
Professor Djikeng’s research, capacity building and international development interests are centred on genetic improvement for sustainable and profitable livestock development in tropical low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Professor Djikeng is Chair of Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable development and Director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH). CTLGH is a strategic livestock genetics research and development alliance, established in 2014 by the University of Edinburgh (through the Roslin Institute), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) with operating nodes in the UK (Edinburgh) and in Africa (Nairobi and Addis Ababa). CTLGH’s mission is to develop tools, technologies and innovations to enhance the resilience, productivity, efficiency and environmental sustainability of tropical livestock production systems particularly for smallholder farmers in LMICs. CTLGH receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), The Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA).
Fred van Eeuwijk is professor of applied statistics at Wageningen University. His research concentrates on statistical genetics, especially the development of models for genotype to phenotype relations in plants. This work addresses the statistical modelling of genotype by environment interactions from a number of perspectives (QTL/GWAS models, genomic prediction, hybrid models combining statistical genetics and crop physiology, hierarchical and causal models for multiple traits).
Wageningen University has as its mission ‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’ and has over 3,500 employees and 12,000 students from more than hundred countries that work in the domain of healthy food and living environment.
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.
Michel Georges is Professor in Genetics and Genomics at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Liège in Belgium. He heads the Unit of Genetics of the GIGA Research Institute in the same university. Georges was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1959. He obtained his DVM degree at the University of Liège in 1983, followed by a degree in Molecular Biology at the Free University of Brussels in 1985. From 1985 to 1988 he worked in the laboratories of Gilbert Vassart at the Free University of Brussels and Roger Hanset at the University of Liège. He obtained is habilitation from the University of Liège in 1991. From 1989 to 1993 he was senior scientist, then director of research at Genmark Inc. and adjunct professor in the Department of Human Genetics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since 1994 he has been heading the Unit of Animal Genomics at the University of Liège. He played an instrumental role in establishing the GIGA Research Institute. Georges was awarded the Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 2007, and the Francqui Prize in Biomedical Sciences in 2008.
Sarah Hearne, principal scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), focuses on identification and application of native genetic variation for crop improvement. Working with multi-disciplinary teams she explores, harnesses, re-combines and develops applications in the areas of genomics, informatics and biometrics, in order to leverage data synergies and more efficiently and effectively identify and use high value genetic variation in targeted breeding.
She currently leads Seeds of Discovery initiative (SeeD) of CIMMYT and the trait discovery and deployment space of the Excellence in Breeding Platform. Her science is complemented by emphasis on data management and equitable, IP-sensitive knowledge sharing; facilitating access to data, tools, services, germplasm, advice and training for other researchers and breeders.
Charles Johnson is director and founder of the Texas A&M AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Service (TxGen), a multimillion-dollar agrigenomics research unit within Texas A&M AgriLife Research, part of the Texas A&M System. The center conducts next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics research with collaborators in 42 countries, working with hundreds of different groups including other universities and companies. His current internal research is centered around low-cost high throughput genotyping methods supporting AgriGenomics.
Dr. Johnson grow up on a farm in Northern Michigan, receiving his PhD from Texas A&M University and has worked for more than two decades in genomics and bioinformatics research, leading highly successful research teams in both industry and academia.