2014 Speakers

Robin Buell
Dr. Robin Buell works in the Department of Plant Biology in Michigan State University. Her work focuses on sequencing on functional genomics of rice, potatoes, maize, and switchgrass. Continuing work on refining the rice genome has allowed her lab to correct sequencing errors, discover the function of unknown genes, and explore if transposable elements can create new genes in rice. Her lab was instrumental in generating and publishing the potato genome, and has found molecular markers corresponding to potatoes bred for different uses (such as potato chips and French fries). She has played a role in genotyping thousands of maize and switchgrass cultivars with high-throughput sequencing to aid in breeding for biofuel production.

Gilbert Gillespie
Dr. Gillbert Gillespie was a senior research associate and senior lecturer in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. He currently is affiliated with the Harrisdale Homestead.  His research and teaching have focused on the social aspects of food and agriculture and issues of agriculture, food and the environment. He has been especially interested in the social aspects of more local food systems in their particular ecological contexts and in how more local food systems can contribute to community development and promote sustainability.

Ivan Ingelbrecht
Dr. Ivan Ingelbrecht obtained his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Ghent, Belgium in 1993. As a PhD student he published one of the first cases of transgene silencing in plants. As a Research Associate at Texas A&M, USA (1996-2000) he produced virus and herbicide resistant transgenic sugarcane plants and developed, together with colleagues, a genetic transformation system for grapefruit. At Texas A&M, he isolated novel proteins involved in RNA interference pathways. In 2000-2001, he worked as a Patent Liaison at CropDesign, Ghent, Belgium. He has 12 years working experience in Sub Saharan Africa, first as a post-doc (1994-1996) and later as Head of the Biotechnology Laboratory at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-2001 to 2009) in Nigeria. At IITA, he was PI on research projects to develop genetic transformation systems for the tropical crops cassava and black eye pea and for molecular markers diversity. As Project Coordinator and member of the Research-for-Development Council at IITA, he was also involved in research management and priority setting for the Institute. In 2010, he joined the UN Industrial Development Organization and the Institute Plant Biotechnology Overseas at the University Ghent as Program Manager of the International Industrial Biotechnology Network.

Wendelyn Jones
Dr. Wendelyn Jones currently works for DuPont Crop Protection in Global Regulatory Affairs. She has a doctorate in molecular toxicology from Vanderbilt University and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. .Most recently, she established and lead the Global Policy and Scientific Affairs team at DuPontPioneer. In this role, she developed a coordinated approach for new technology development and market introduction by leveraging the diverse background of team members in science, government affairs and industry affairs. She was recruited to DuPont Pioneer to serve as Director for Global Registration and Regulatory Affairs. She has also held various positions relating to safety/risk assessments and biotech policy. She has worked in international policy coordination and promoted science-based regulations in both the industrial and the government sector. She was part of the FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on the Safety Assessment of Genetically Modified Foods. She has extensive experience in international negotiations and served on various delegations including Convention on Biological Diversity; the Codex Alimentarius Commission Ad-Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology; and the OECD Working Group on Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology. She has been an invited speaker on topics including the role of scientific outreach in new technology development, publication planning and risk assessment. Additionally, she serves on grant review committees and is peer reviewer for science journals.

Paul Mitchell
Dr. Paul Mitchell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. He received his B.A. from Iowa State University in History, his M.A. in Classics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Iowa State University. His current research and extension outreach programs focus on the farm-level economics of crop production; emphasizing pest management, risk management and specialty crop economics. He has been productive in pest management, with a variety of publications examining various aspects of insect and weed management, including transgenic crops, invasive insects, management of pest resistance, and estimation of pest damage functions. His risk management work focuses on the use of insurance and federal programs to manage farm income risk and to encourage adoption of more efficient technologies. Other research examines how insurance and information can reduce the use of crop inputs for risk management and so improve the environmental performance of crop farmers. His research on economic issues in specialty crop production examines changes in potato demand due to the growing importance of organic and other specialty types of potatoes and a new method to estimate how management affects the size distribution of harvested potato tubers. Lastly, his outreach program in risk management includes both crop insurance and various other federal programs, including disaster assistance and commodity support programs.