Spring 2022 International Plant Breeding Seminars

Scheduled Seminars

MARCH 31, 2022

Chiedozie Egesi (NextGen Cassava Project Lead; IITA, Nigeria):
NextGen Cassava: Plant Breeding for Africa’s Food Future.

APRIL 7, 2022

Juan Acosta (Research Assistant Professor and Geneticist and Tree Improvement Specialist; NC State University, US):
Camcore: 40+ years of international tree breeding and gene conservation.

APRIL 14, 2022

Elcio Perpetuo Guimaraes (Director General, Rice and Beans Research Center; EMBRAPA, Brazil):
Rice breeding in Brazil, a successful story.


Toinette van Rooyen (Sweetcorn Breeder; Starke Ayres Seeds, South Africa): Breeding sweetcorn in African soil.

APRIL 28, 2022

Dr. Jonathan Kressin (Associate Pre-Breeder; East-West Seeds, Thailand):
Vegetable breeding in the tropics: Success stories and perspectives through the eyes of an early career breeder.

MAY 5, 2022

Valerio Hoyos-Villegas (Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics; McGill University, Canada):
Phenomics-Enabled Breeding: Crop Improvement for Solving Grand Challenges.

Fund Our Work

Support our efforts to advance international plant breeding research, education, and outreach.

Funds supporting the International Plant Breeding Enhancement Fund are collected and managed by The North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax id 56-6049304. You will receive an official receipt for your donation.

Spring 2022 Speakers

Chiedozie Egesi

Chiedozie Egesi, is a Senior Scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan, Nigeria. He is the global project director for the NextGen Cassava project. NextGen Cassava aims at accelerating the rate of genetic improvement of cassava. He has also served as a Director at the National Root Crops Research Institute, in Umudike, Nigeria. Chiedozie is one of Africa’s leading cassava breeders and has a very good understanding of the different value chains of the crop.

He has led efforts at developing and releasing 40 improved varieties of cassava including 9 pro-vitamin A cassava to cassava farmers. His research activities involved the use of cross-cutting breeding and technology tools in the genetic improvement of cassava. Chiedozie supports several African countries in developing adaptive cassava breeding schemes. In 2017, he was appointed an adjunct professor in Plant Breeding and Genetics by the Cornell University. He has served as project advisor for more than 10 PhD students in the area of plant breeding and genetics. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the African Plant Breeders Association and also the President of the Nigeria Plant Breeders Association.

Juan José Acosta

Dr. Juan José Acosta is a Geneticist and Tree Improvement Specialist and Assistant Research Professor at North Carolina State University, Dr. Acosta holds a B.Sc in Forest Engineering from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and a Ph.D. in Forest Genetics from the University of Florida. He manages Camcore’s breeding and testing program and works in molecular and quantitative genetic analysis.  Prior to Camcore, Juan José worked as a researcher for five years with Smurfit Kappa Colombia. His research interests include molecular genetics and genomic selection, wood properties, near-infrared spectroscopy applications, data analysis, and tree breeding strategies.

Elcio Perpetuo Guimaraes

Dr. Elcio Perpetuo Guimaraes has been Director General at Embrapa Rice and Bean since 2019 and holds BSc in Agronomy and MSc in Genetics and Plant Breeding from ESALQ, Piracicaba, Brazil, and a PhD in Genetics and Plant Breeding from Iowa State University, Ames, USA. Prior to Embrapa Rice and Bean, Guimaraes worked as Research and Development Director at Embrapa Rice and Bean; Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; Senior Officer Cereal/Crops Breeding at Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy; and Rice breeder at Embrapa Rice and Bean and at CIAT. He has published more than 200 technical articles, book chapters, edited several books, and given more than 300 talks in different countries worldwide in Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and English. Guimaraes is responsible for the release of more than 40 rice cultivars in Brazil and countries in Latina America and the Caribbean.

Toinette van Rooyen

I started working in the Ag industry in 2004 when I join Pannar Seed’s Biotech Laboratory in Greytown. While at Pannar Seed I also worked in the Analytical Laboratory, was part of the Inbred Management team before I become the Operations Lead for the Greytown Research Site. I completed my Masters in Plant Breeding at the University of the Free State, in 2015. I joined the Starke Ayres’ Research team in 2019. I am currently the sweetcorn breeder at Starke Ayres, based in Greytown South Africa. I am humbled to be able to apply my skills and passion for the Ag industry to help ensure

food security and sustainability.

Jonathan Kressin

Jonathan Kressin is an early career pre-breeder with East-West Seeds and is based in Thailand. His efforts primarily support the tomato group’s variety breeders, but also include the yardlong bean and french bean crops. As a pre-breeder, his work focuses on trait discovery, quantification, marker development, and introgression into cultivated, elite germplasm. He also manages tomato and bean external research projects with universities and private sector collaborators.

Originally from the mountains of New Mexico in the USA, Jonathan earned his B.S. in agriculture from New Mexico State University in 2012, majoring in horticulture. He then joined the tomato breeding and pathology teams at North Carolina State University and earned a masters degree in 2014, and a PhD and short post-doc in 2018. At NC State, he worked on tomato bacterial wilt resistance and management using vegetable grafting under Drs. Dilip Panthee and Frank Louws.

During his time at NC State, Jonathan was an invited speaker and guest lecturer in undergraduate classes, extension education events, and at the Ohio State Plant Sciences symposium in 2018. He was also honored to be the recipient of the Monsanto Fellows in Plant Breeding scholarship. Since joining East-West Seeds, he has lectured in the company’s Advanced Plant Breeding academy, R&D seminars, and coordinates the East-West Seeds Pre-breeder’s Roundtable meetings.

In his personal life, Jonathan is a husband and father. He enjoys playing piano, synthesizer, and pipe organ (when he can get it!). He also loves video games, working in his garden, and skiing.

Valerio Hoyos-Villegas

Dr. Valerio Hoyos-Villegas obtained his MS in Crop Physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his PhD from Michigan State University (USA) in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology. In 2019 he joined as Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at McGill University where he holds a teaching and research appointment. He teaches undergraduate statistics and graduate-level plant breeding and genetics. Valerio’s area of expertise is on breeding and genetics of pulse species and developing phenomics tools for the improvement of complex traits. Valerio is associate and technical editor in multiple scientific journals. Valerio serves in leadership roles at the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) and the North American Plant Phenotyping Network and other scientific organizations.

Watch the Spring 2023 Seminar Series