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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology  -  Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence

PMB is pleased to announce a series of events and programming in honor of the department's 30th anniversary. 

The first event in this series is on Friday, June 12, Noon - 1:00 p.m. as part of the Berkeley Conversations series:

Of Virulent Viruses and Reservoir Hosts

Bats are thought to harbor hundreds of coronaviruses, as well as many other types of viruses that are highly pathogenic in humans. Dr. Cara Brook and Professor Britt Glaunsinger will provide insight into what allows bats to exist with such an array of potentially lethal viruses, how pathogens like the coronavirus jump into the human population and how the coronavirus is able to hijack a human cell to amplify itself and evade the immune system. They will also discuss the coordinated efforts across UC Berkeley to track the virus, discover exactly how it works and develop new therapies.

Britt Glaunsinger, Professor, Department of Plant & Microbial Biology & Class of 1963 Endowed Chair, HHMI Investigator
Cara Brook, Miller Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Integrative Biology and Plant & Microbial Biology

You can view this live talk by clicking here. If you would like to participate in the live Q&A you will need to do so on the comments section of the Facebook Live. 

Coming Up

Next in the Series
Stay tuned for further programming announcements about expert guest speakers in topical conversations (see below) and—when we can gather in person again—about a special celebration at the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens.

PMB will host a series of online talks through 2020 (dates TBD) that cover topics which reflect the Department’s contributions to CRISPR/Cas9 and agriculture; innovation and entrepreneurialism; and industry & academia.

And for recent news highlighting the excellence of PMB's leading edge research for the public good, click here.

Confirmed Speakers in 2020

Remi Cohen
Remi Cohen is the Chief Operating Officer of Lede Family Wines, encompassing Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley and FEL Wines in the Anderson Valley. Remi directs the grape growing and winemaking process from vineyard to bottle and is responsible for top quality, small-lot winemaking expressive of appellation and vineyard site. In addition, she oversees the sale of all wines through the direct to consumer hospitality experience and the wine club programs, and throughout the domestic and international markets.

Prior to joining Lede Family Wines, Remi founded her own viticultural and winemaking consulting company called Vines to Wine, where she worked with Cliff Lede Vineyards since 2010. Before establishing Vines to Wine, Remi was the vice president of operations at Merryvale Vineyards, where she oversaw all of the farming, grower relations, and direct to consumer sales programs. Previously, she worked at Bouchaine Vineyards and Saintsbury Winery in their viticulture and vineyard operations departments.

Raised in New Jersey, Remi moved to California to attend U.C. Berkeley where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in molecular and cellular biology. She then enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at U.C. Davis, where she received her master’s degree. Remi later completed her M.B.A. at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. 

Xing Wang Deng
(bio pending)

Mat Fisher
Prof Matthew Fisher works on emerging pathogenic fungi and is the head of the ‘Fungal Epidemiology’ theme in the UK MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis within the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London. His research uses an evolutionary framework to investigate the biological and environmental factors that are driving emerging fungal diseases across human, wildlife and plant species. Wildlife and their environments play a key role in the emergence of human emerging infectious disease (EID) by providing a 'zoonotic pool' from which previously unknown pathogens emerge. Conversely, human action impacts on patterns of fungal disease via the perturbation of natural systems, the introduction, and the spread of pathogenic fungi into naïve environments, and by rapid natural selection for unwanted phenotypes such as resistance to antimicrobial drugs. These interactions are leading to an upswing of new fungal infections in new places, leading to new (and exacerbating old) human diseases. Matthew Fisher’s research group is focused on research using genomic, epidemiological, ecological and experimental models to uncover the factors driving these EIDs, and to attempt to develop new methods of diagnosis and control.

Shannon Greene
(bio pending)

Wilhelm Gruissem, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Wilhelm Gruissem is Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) since 2000 and Chair Professor and Yu-shan Scholar at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan since 2017. Before moving to Zurich, he was Professor of Plant Biology at the University of California at Berkeley from 1983-2000. He was Chair of the Department at UC Berkeley from 1993-1998 and Director of a collaborative research program with Novartis from 1998-2000. In 2008 he started the company Nebion. From 2006 to 2010 he was President of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO) and in in 2012 he was elected Chair and Acting President of the Global Plant Council that he served until 2015. In addition to his research on systems biology, he directs a biotechnology program on trait improvement in cassava, rice and wheat. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Society of PlantBiologists, Editor of Plant  Biology until 2019, and Co-Editor of the acclaimed book ‘Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants’. He has received several prestigious awards, including prizes for his trait improvement work in cassava.

Stefan Kirchanski
(bio pending)

Steve Lee
(bio pending)

Richard (Rich) Lyons
Rich Lyons serves as the chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer for UC Berkeley. Prior to that role he served as dean of Berkeley's Haas School of Business (2008 to 2018) and currently holds the William and Janet Cronk Chair in Innovative Leadership. From 2006 to 2008 he oversaw Goldman Sachs University as chief learning officer. He received his BS with highest honors from UC Berkeley (business) and PhD from MIT (economics). Before (re)joining Berkeley, Rich was for six years on the business faculty at Columbia University. His research and teaching expertise is in international economics and finance and his top applied interest is the “how and why” of setting strong institutional cultures.

Pamela Ronald, Distinguished Professor, Dept of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, UC Davis
Director, Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, UC Davis
Key Scientist, Joint Bioenergy Institute
Faculty Affiliate, Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University

Pamela Ronald completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley (1990), earned a B.S. from the Reed College (1982), an M.S. from Stanford University and an M.S. from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Prof Ronald uses genetic techniques to understand the plant response to infection and tolerance to environmental stress. With her collaborators, she received the 2008 USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award and the 2012 Tech Award for the innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. In 2015 Scientific American named her one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology. Ronald’s book, Tomorrow’s Table: Organic farming, Genetics and the Future of Food was selected as one of a 25 most influential books with the power to inspire college readers to change the world. Her 2015 TED talk has been viewed by more than 1.8 million people and translated into 26 languages.  In 2019, she received the American Society of Plant Biologists Leadership Award, an honorary doctorate from the Swedish Agricultural University and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Chris Somerville
(bio pending)

Ian Van Trump
(bio pending)

Tom White
Dr. Thomas J. White received his B.A. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley- including graduate studies in the Pharmacology Department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His postdoctoral studies were at UCSF Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over 3 decades from 1978-2010, he was the Senior VP of Research at Cetus Corporation, Senior VP of R&D at Roche Molecular Systems, and Chief Scientific Officer at Celera Corporation. He worked on human therapeutic proteins and multiple applications of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in basic research, molecular evolution, forensics and molecular diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, genetic disorders and cancer. In addition, he directed CDC post-docs working on HIV evolution and transmission and collaborated with Professor John Taylor on the molecular phylogenetics and population biology of fungal pathogens. Dr. White was the Regents Lecturer at UC Berkeley in 2012-13, and has served as a member of the advisory boards of the Human Rights Center, the College of Natural Resources, and as Trustee of the University of California Press Foundation.

Kelly Wrighton
(bio pending)