AfPBA Instructors and Staff

Instructors: Primary instructors will teach the core of the course and speakers who are specialists in specific topics will be invited. All are recognized leaders in their fields.

Rita Mumm, Primary Instructor
rita-mummDr. Rita Mumm brings over 20 years of experience in plant breeding and the seed industry. Dr. Mumm was a pioneer in developing and releasing some of the first transgenic traits in crops with DEKALB Genetics Corp. Her current research focuses on maize quantitative genetics, applications of genomic information to the development of improved hybrids, and deployment of traits created through genetic engineering, including efficient breeding strategies and stewardship of government regulated materials. Dr. Mumm was the founding director of the Illinois Plant Breeding Center at the University of Illinois, now one of the most prominent educational centers for crop genetic improvement in the USA.  In addition to faculty at the University of Illinois, Dr. Mumm is principal at GeneMax Services, a consulting firm to the seed industry. She is past president of the National Association of Plant Breeders.

Todd Wehner, Primary Instructor
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Dr. Todd Wehner has been working on plant breeding at North Carolina State University since 1979. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving his A.B. in botany (research: redwood forest ecology) in 1975 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a M.S. in Agronomy (research on snap peas) and a Ph.D. in plant breeding and plant genetics (research on leafless peas) in 1979. Dr. Wehner took over the cucumber breeding and genetics project at North Carolina State University, Raleigh in 1979, and in 1993, he took on the additional responsibility for breeding and genetics research on watermelon and specialty melon. His research has emphasized improved selection methods; recurrent selection for fruit yield, earliness, quality and parthenocarpy; resistance to chilling, nematodes, foliar fungi; and germplasm evaluation to provide industry with new traits for the development of improved cultivars. He was an advisor for production of pickling cucumber in Sri Lanka in 1993, watermelon in China in 1999, and cucurbit seed collection in Zimbabwe in 2001. He led expeditions to collect germplasm from China in 1994, the Republic of South Africa in 1996, and Turkmenistan in 2008.

Dr. Iago Hale, Primary Instructor
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Dr. Iago Hale, an assistant professor of specialty crop improvement at the University of New Hampshire, USA, is inspired by the potential of plant breeding to enhance health, rural livelihoods, food security, and ecosystem integrity.  After studying Physics (B.A.) at Dartmouth College and living and working internationally for a number of years, including in East Africa, Dr. Hale attended the University of California – Davis, where he received his M.S. in International Agricultural Development and Ph.D. in Horticulture and Agronomy (Plant Breeding specialization).  His research activities are diverse and include pre-breeding (gene discovery and characterization) for rust resistance in wheat; breeding hardy kiwi cultivars (Actinidia spp.) for the northeastern United States and understanding their potential impact on the region’s forests; and investigating the effects of domestication and dislocation from centers of origin on plant-associated microbial communities (model species: Phaseolus vulgaris).  Dr. Hale taught a graduate-level course on the design, analysis, and interpretation of experiments at UC Davis and looks forward to working with plant breeders from across Africa as they develop their programs through this academy.

Dr. J. Bruce Walsh, Primary Instructor
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Dr. Bruce Walsh is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Professor of Public Health at the University of Arizona, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Plant Sciences, Animal Sciences, and Molecular and Cellular Biology.  He is a preeminent instructor in Genetics, coauthoring (along with Mike Lynch at Indiana) “Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits”, one of the standard references on the application of quantitative genetics to breeding, evolutionary biology, and human genetics.  Over the past ten years, he has been invited to give short courses on advanced topics in quantitative and statistical genetics at many of the world’s leading universities, including Wageningen, Edinburgh, Uppsala, Huazhong Agricultural University, Aarhus, Liege, Technical University of Munich, University of Helsinki, University of New England (NSW, Australia), and  Peking University. Additionally, he has been an instructor for over a decade at the Seattle Summer Institute of Statistical Genetics, training over 500 students at just this institute alone.

Dr. Kent Bradford, Primary Instructor
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Dr. Kent J. Bradford is a Professor of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. Dr. Bradford received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Horticulture from Michigan State University and his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from UC Davis. He has been on the faculty at UC Davis since 1982, serving as Chair of the Department of Vegetable Crops from 1993 to 1998 and as Director of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center since 1999. He teaches University and Extension courses on seed production and quality and received a Fulbright Scholar award in 1999 to teach in Argentina. He was awarded the career Seed Science Award from the Crop Science Society of America in 2002 and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003. Dr. Bradford’s research interests are in identifying the genetic and molecular mechanisms regulating seed germination, in applying mathematical models to describe seed germination and dormancy behavior, and in applying methods to enhance seed quality and longevity.

Dr. Allen Van Deynze, Primary Instructor
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Dr. Allen Van Deynze is a professional researcher at the Seed Biotechnology Center at University of California, Davis. Dr. Van Deynze received a BSc. and MSc. degree in Plant Science from the University of Manitoba, Canada and a Ph.D. in plant molecular breeding from the University of Guelph, Canada. He did a postdoctorate in molecular genetics at Cornell University in the Department of Plant Breeding and Biometry. He worked as a plant breeder for Calgene/Monsanto and as a senior scientist for Celera AgGen and Paradigm Genetics where he developed and implemented strategies to incorporate biotechnology into breeding programs. As part of the SBC’s mission to serve as a liaison between public institutions and the seed industry, he develops, coordinates and conducts research on the application of biotechnologies to seed crops.  Dr. Van Deynze generates and disseminates scientific and informational content for the Center’s educational and outreach programs. His interests include identification of molecular markers to help incorporate traits into new varieties, development of new phenotypes.

Sally Mohr, Program Representative
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Ms. Mohr is a program representative at the Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC) and is the course coordinator for Seed Business 101. Sally joined the SBC in May of 2013. Prior to this she worked at the UC Davis California Center for Urban Horticulture and was a resident coordinator for the otolaryngology department at the UC Davis Med Center. At the SBC she is responsible for organizing educational programs and courses and for developing outreach materials.