2021 Speakers

Dr. Becky Bart- Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Becky competed her undergraduate education at Reed College in Portland Oregon before pursuing her doctoral research in the Plant Pathology Department at UC Davis. There she worked with Prof. Pamela Ronald to elucidate genetic components of the rice innate immune response. Becky then worked as a USDA-NIFA postdoctoral scholar in Prof. Brian Staskawicz’s laboratory at UC Berkeley to further understand the molecular and genetic interaction between the important food crop, cassava, and its major bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis. Becky began her own laboratory at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the Fall of 2013. Dr. Bart’s research program occupies the unique and important space between ‘mystery driven’ scientific pursuits and impactful translation of science into solutions for farmers. Specifically, she works on understanding the interactions between plants, microbes and the environment. This includes developing and deploying novel genetic methods to protect plants from pathogens and cultivating associations with beneficial microbes. Her work is bolstered by cutting edge technologies including modeling, genomics, high throughput phenotyping and gene editing.

Dr. Phillip Cleves- Carnegie Institute for Science

Dr. Phillip Cleves received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. For his Ph.D., he studied the molecular genetic basis of morphological evolution in stickleback fish. After his Ph.D., he continued to his postdoctoral work studying coral symbiosis at Stanford University. There, he has applied next-generation sequencing and genome editing tools to study the genetic networks that orchestrate this symbiosis in corals. These technological advancements allow for the dissection of coral gene function for the first time.  In 2021, Phillip started his own lab studying the cellular basis of coral symbiosis and bleaching at the Carnegie Institute for Science – Department of Embryology and Johns Hopkins University – Department of Biology.  

Dr. Elizabeth Maga- UC Davis

Dr. Elizabeth Maga is an Associate Professor of Applied Molecular Genetics in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Colorado State University (1988) and a PhD in Food Science and Technology from UC Davis (1994). Her research focuses on applying biotechnology to animal agriculture as a tool to improve animal and human health. Her current work is directed at translating the use of lysozyme-rich milk from genetically engineered goats to fight intestinal diseases and the generation of gene edited pigs for agricultural and biomedical purposes. Dr. Maga has taught courses in molecular biology, introductory animal science and advances in animal biotechnology as well as lactation and integrative animal biology at UC Davis. She has received multiple federally-funded (USDA-NIFA) research grants to study the impact of transgene presence and expression on the biology of the transgenic animal and a Grand Challenges Explorations Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study the effects of milk on malnutrition using a pig model.

Dr. Arnaud Martin- George Washington University

Dr. Arnaud Martin is an assistant professor at the George Washington University DC. He earned a Master in Cell and Developmental Biology at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, and then worked for the past 15 years on the genetic basis of color pattern formation for 15 years, between a PhD at UC Irvine with Bob Reed, a split post-doc with Bob Reed (Cornell U) and Tom Schilling (UC Irvine), and a post-doc with Nipam Patel (UC Berkeley). His research focuses on deciphering the developmental mechanisms that make butterfly wings a crucible of morphological diversity, and he is also sponsored by the NSF to establish the pantry mealmoth as a laboratory system for studying lepidopteran insects. He has 9 years of experience applying CRISPR techniques to non-model organisms, interrogating the gene-phenotype relationship with DNA editing experiments that tweak body region identity (Hox genes), morphogenetic signaling and pattern formation (Wnt pathway), or the identity of iridescent ultraviolet colors. He also developed a laboratory course where undergraduate students generate butterfly wing mutants in the classroom, from experimental design to embryo microinjection of CRISPR reagents.

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