Kimberlee Kidwell


Dr. Kim Kidwell, Dean and Robert A. Easter Chair in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois, is a nationally respected scholar and award-winning teacher. She is a proud alumna of ACES where she earned bachelor’s degrees in both genetics and development and agriculture science. She received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her role as dean, Kidwell is improving student learning; driving sound, innovative research; and cultivating industry partnerships to improve the lives of the residents of Illinois, in support of the land-grant mission of UIUC. Dean Kidwell is an accomplished spring wheat breeder and geneticist, developing more than 20 wheat varieties for farmers. Her research has led to multiple patented discoveries addressing questions involving gene discovery, characterization, and mapping of important traits for wheat.

Kevin Bradley


Kevin Bradley is a Professor and State Extension Weed Scientist at the University of Missouri. He received a B. S. degree in Agriculture from Ferrum College and a Ph.D. in Weed Science from Virginia Tech. His extension and research responsibilities include the area of applied weed management in corn, soybean, wheat, pastures, and forages. He has served on numerous committees in the North Central Weed Science Society and the American Society of Agronomy. In 2016 he served as the president of the Weed Science Society of America. In addition to evaluating new herbicides, herbicide-resistant crops, and weed management techniques, Dr. Bradley's applied research program focuses on the development of programs for the prevention and management of herbicide-resistant weeds, on the interaction of herbicides and weeds with other agrochemicals and pests in the agroecosystem, and on the effects of common pasture weeds on forage yield, quality, and grazing preference.

Matthew Blair


Matthew Blair is a Plant Breeder and Research Associate Professor at Tennessee State University. He conducts breeding and genetic research on legumes and dicotyledonous C4 crop plants such as cultivated amaranth. Specifically, his lab applies molecular biology research to cultivar and crop development using various agronomic and physiological testing techniques for association genetics and plant breeding. Blair engages with foreign aid groups, agriculture sector decision makers, and farmer groups to improve crop management in the interests of resource-poor farmers. His work aims to have major impacts on the productivity of small-holder agriculture in the USA and internationally. Dr. Blair has has supervised over ten million USD in agricultural research and development funds over the last 10 years. He is also the current president of the Amaranth Institute, a non-profit that hosts an annual conference to connect amaranth farmers, researchers, educators, and industry experts.

Gene Giacomelli


Gene Giacomelli is a Professor in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Arizona. He received a Ph.D. in Horticultural Engineering from Rutgers University in 1983. He also has a Master's degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of California-Davis and two bachelor's degrees in Horticultural Science and Biological and Agricultural Engineering from Rutgers University. His research interests include controlled environment plant productions systems [greenhouse and growth chamber] research, design, development and applications, with emphases on: crop production systems, nutrient delivery systems, environmental control, mechanization, and labor productivity.

Rodrigo Sarria


Rodrigo is the Input Traits Discovery Leader in Trait Discovery. His group is responsible for the discovery, validation, and optimization of insect control and herbicide tolerance traits across economically important pest and weed spectrums for key crops globally. Prior to this role, he initiated his career as a researcher in Colombia in 1989 working with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) where he and his team developed transformation systems for tropical pastures and cassava. Rodrigo was also the Dow AgroScience’s Global Trait Product Development RandD leader. Rodrigo joined DAS in 2010 as the Soybean Trait Product Development Leader responsible for establishing the Purdue Research Park facility. Within the research park, he led the Dicot Center where his team was responsible for early product development activities of the biotechnology trait platform in soybean, canola and cotton.

Sarah Refi Hind


Sarah Refi Hind works as an Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before working with the University of Illinois, Sara was a postdoctoral researcher at the Boyce Thompson Institute of Plant Research. Prior, she received her PhD in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from the University of South Carolina-Colombia. Her current work in Illinois examines how the plant immune system detects pathogenic bacteria that cause various diseases on tomato plants and other vegetable crops. This important research contributes to the understanding of plant-microbe interactions and also aids in the development of agricultural plants that possess an enhanced resistance to infection.

Elizabeth Kellogg


Elizabeth (Toby) Kellogg is the Robert E. King Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Her lab studies cereal crops and their wild relatives in the grass family, using both natural diversity to unlock the genetic potential of the crops, and also the genetic tools of the crops to understand natural diversity. She has discovered genes that affect seed production in crops and in the wild, and has studied grass evolution and genomics. She has published well over 150 papers, is co-author of two textbooks, and is sole author of a book on the evolution and classification of the grass family. In addition to her Ph.D. degree from Harvard University, she has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Córdoba in Argentina.