Keynote Speakers 2022

Plant Physiology/Metabolomics/Biochemistry Guest Speakers:

Dr. Ricardo Hernández

Associate Professor at North Carolina State University

Dr. Ricardo Hernández is an Associate Professor at North Carolina State University ( focused on controlled environment research. A large part of his research program is focused on the environmental optimization to produce in indoor systems (Controlled Environments). He has over 30 published-peer review scientific articles and he was recently awarded twice the “Early Career Faculty Leadership Award” from the American Society of Horticultural Sciences and the “2021- Goodnight Early Career Innovator” at NC State University for his contributions to the controlled environment field. In addition, Dr. Hernández is the co-founder of two start-up companies “Phlora Inc” ( focused on vertical farm technology development and “Grafted Growers LLC”  ( focused on the propagation of transplants in indoor environments.


Dr. Alexandra Jazz Dickinson

Assistant Professor at UC San Diego

Jazz Dickinson received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She conducted her post-doctoral research in developmental plant biology with Prof. Philip Benfey at Duke University. She has also served as a visiting scientist at Stanford University and is a recipient of the Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, the Boka W. Hadzija Award for Distinguished University Service at UNC-CH, and the Ruth L. Kirschstein Graduate Fellowship Award. She joined the UCSD faculty in 2020 to pursue research in small molecule regulation of development.


Plant Genetics/Biotechnology/Breeding Guest Speakers:

Dr. Rex Bernardo

Professor and Endowed Chair in Corn Breeding and Genetics at the University of Minnesota

Rex Bernardo is a professor and endowed chair in maize breeding and genetics at the University of Minnesota. He obtained his undergraduate degree in the Philippines in 1984 and his Ph.D. degree in plant breeding from the University of Illinois in 1988. Dr. Bernardo developed the widely used GBLUP procedure in 1994, and most of his work has focused on marker-assisted breeding. Dr. Bernardo is director of the Plant Breeding Center at Minnesota, has written two textbooks, and teaches graduate courses in plant breeding and in professional skills for scientists.


Dr. Nadia Shakoor

Principal Investigator at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Dr. Nadia Shakoor, principal investigator and senior research scientist, firmly believes in being the change you want to see in the world. When she comes across a problem that needs a solution, she doesn’t hesitate to create one herself. “It’s empowering and inspiring to know that as new challenges emerge that require novel technologies, I can discover how to build the solution myself,” says Nadia Shakoor. Teamwork, however, is an essential ingredient when creating innovative solutions to complex problems: “Successful execution of an innovative idea sometimes needs a team with a diversity of skills and perspectives that can become greater than the sum of its parts. Given the complexity of the systems we are designing, a multidisciplinary approach is ideal. We have a team of experts from fields including remote sensing, engineering, computer science, and plant science all working together to take our projects from concept to reality.”


Plant Ecology Guest Speakers:

Dr. Michael Kantar

Associate Professor at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa

Michael Kantar is currently an associate professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, he received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Minnesota and did a post-doc at the University of British Columbia. He was a 2018 AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow. His research focuses on Neo-domestication, crop wild relatives, Food Security, Agroecology, and the genetic basis of local adaptation.


Dr. Darren Drewry

Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University

Dr. Darren Drewry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University. He is a core member of the Translational Data Analytics Institute and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. Prior to joining the faculty of OSU, Dr. Drewry was a Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in both the Climate Physics and the Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems groups. His research spans terrestrial remote sensing and modeling and simulation of vegetation. His broad research goals include the integration of state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies with advanced biophysical simulation tools to quantify crop responses to climate. His recent work has included applications of model-assisted crop design and high-throughput phenotyping.