Invited Speakers

Keynote Speakers


Dr. Allison Miller

Professor (Biology Department) at Saint Louis University,  Research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Member and Principal Investigator at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center 

Her study is focused on perennial crops and wild perennial species in the field, often over the course of multiple years. Her lab generates genetic data and patterns of gene expression, and measure a range of plant traits. Their goals are to advance basic understanding of evolution and plasticity in perennial plants, and to apply this work to perennial crop improvement, the development of novel crops for natural systems agriculture, and the conservation of perennial plant genetic resources.

Ongoing projects in her lab are: 1) Grapevine rootstocks: diversity, domestication, and impacts on shoot phenotypes; 2) Global inventory and systematic evaluation of perennial grain, legume, and oilseed species for pre- breeding and domestication; 3) Geographic patterns of genetic and morphological variation in threatened Mascarene Diospyros (Ebenaceae); 4) Evolutionary ecology of the North American kudzu (Pueraria lobata, Fabaceae) invasion; 5) Evolutionary dynamics in domesticated trees and their wild relatives. Ongoing work focuses on pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and is wild relatives; 6) Evolution of reproductive systems in clonally propagated perennial crops. Ongoing work focuses on horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and its wild relatives; and 7) Population genetic structure and patterns of cytotypic diversity in big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

Dr. Kerry Clark

Director of CAFNR International Programs and Assistant Research Professor in Rural Sociology at University of Missouri

Kerry Clark is director of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources international program, research professor in the division of applied social sciences, and a project manager for distributing soybean success kits and with the USAID Soybean Innovation Lab in Illinois. Her work with the Soybean innovation lab tries to bridge soybean seed quality with sociological research in Ghana and Mozambique. She has a lot of experience working with multidisciplinary international projects to advance smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. She also works with sustainable and organic cropping systems research,being  the co-founder of the organic research program at University of Missouri, managing multi-disciplinary teams to conduct research and extension in areas of agricultural sustainability such as soil quality, cover cropping, weed control, and environmental effects of organic cropping systems. 


Ohio Speakers


Dr. David Francis

Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences, The Ohio State University

Davis Francis is a Full Professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Sciences at OSU. His research aims to define the genetic basis of field resistance, humid environment adaptation, and fruit quality, while contributing innovative strategies for crop improvement. The tomato breeding and genetics program has strengths in both the basic and applied sciences. Emphasis is placed on translating the results of plant genomics through the development of techniques for genetic mapping and selection in breeding populations. Individual projects stress multi-disciplinary approaches to breeding for disease resistance and end-product quality, understanding the genetic determinants of nutritional quality in tomato fruit, mechanisms of plant resistance to disease, population genetics of cultivated tomato, and the evolution of tomato and its wild relatives. His lab provides fundamental knowledge related to the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control disease resistance, tomato fruit quality, and the domestication of plants. Knowledge gained from these studies has directly resulted in the release of tomato varieties with improved disease resistance, enhanced processing quality, and enhanced nutritional value. Processing tomato hybrids and parents released by the program are used commercially and rank among the best in the Great Lakes industry for factory quality grade. Dr. Francis also has collaborative works in tomato breeding with USDA and other institutions such as UFL. 

Dr. Luis Canas

Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University

Luis Canas is an associate professor at the Department of Entomology at OSU. His research aims to understand the ecology of major insect pest groups of ornamentals and vegetables produced in controlled environments and to develop ecologically based management practices that will reduce our dependence on pesticides and have less adverse effects on the environment. The core objectives of his research program are 1) to advance our understanding of ecological principles and how they are driving the population trends observed for major insect pest groups of ornamentals and vegetables produced in controlled environments and their natural enemies, 2) apply these ecological principles to develop management practices for insect pests, and 3) develop IPM solutions for ornamental and vegetables that can be applied not only in controlled environments but elsewhere. He also has an Extension appointment where his goal is to establish a well known program that provides insect management options for growers of ornamentals and vegetables and promotes the development of IPM programs in controlled environments, as well as to integrate both Extension and Research efforts in order to promote long term solutions for pest management in controlled environments. 

Dr. Francesca Peduto-Hand

Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University

Francesca is an associate professor at the Department of Plant Pathology at OSU. Her research program focuses on the development of sustainable strategies for plant disease management in ornamental crops. In her work, she uses a combination of conventional and molecular techniques, combined with field studies, to investigate disease epidemiology, biology, and ecology of fungal and oomycete pathogens, from which detection and control strategies are developed. She also runs an extension program which aims to develop plant health management strategies to address the disease problems faced by the floriculture, landscape, and nursery industries of Ohio. Her goal as an extension educator is to enhance knowledge of pathogens’ biology, etiology and epidemiology among extension clientele through development and delivery of educational materials, visits to greenhouse/nursery/golf courses, as well as through participation and presentations at grower-oriented meetings, trade shows, open houses, field days, and workshops.