Institutional Collaborators



Lori Hoagland, Assistant Professor, Specialty Crop Production Systems, Purdue University
Dr. Hoagland’s research focuses on soil microbes and their interactions with plants to increase crop productivity and reduce negative impacts of farming systems on the environment. Current projects include efforts to identify management practices that stimulate the activity of microbes that efficiently cycle nutrients, suppress soil-borne pathogens, and/or help plants tolerate drought stress, and select carrot and tomato varieties that actively recruit and host beneficial microbes that help plants resist pathogen infection.


Micaela Colley, Program Director, Organic Seed Alliance
In addition to being the executive director, Micaela Colley manages participatory plant breeding, research and education projects with farmers, university researchers and other seed professionals. She has authored several educational publications covering topics on organic seed production, on-farm crop improvement and variety trialing, and teaches workshops on seed related topics.


Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
Dr. Jeanine Davis is an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. She is stationed at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, near Asheville, NC. For over 25 years, her program has focused on helping farmers diversify into new crops and organic agriculture. She has led and cooperated on many applied and basic research projects that include Echinacea, hops, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, broccoli, stevia, garlic, and heirloom tomatoes. She has published over 120 refereed research and extension publications and given over 500 invited presentations in the U.S., Canada, and Chile. She recently revised and expanded the book Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals with coauthor and ginseng expert Scott Persons. Jeanine is a founding board member of the Organic Growers School and an advisor for the NC Herb Association, the NC Tomato Growers Association, and the NC Natural Products Association.


Julie Dawson, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Julie Dawson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her background is in organic plant breeding and participatory research. Before arriving at UW-Madison, she worked on wheat breeding for artisanal bread making quality with farmers in Washington, France, and New York. In Wisconsin, she is working with other plant breeders to test varieties with organic farmers and local chefs, particularly related to flavor and quality in direct market vegetables. She also is working on tomato and carrot variety trialing for flavor and adaptation to organic conditions, including season extension using hoop-houses.


Daniel S. Egel, Clinical/Engagement Associate Professor, Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University
Dr. Egel earned his bachelor’s degree from Miami University, a master’s degree from Purdue University, and his doctorate from the University of Florida. Dan is responsible for vegetable disease extension and research throughout Indiana. His current research interests include: Host resistance to anthracnose and Fusarium wilt of watermelon; managing fungicide resistance in foliar pathogens, and; management of vegetable diseases in greenhouses. Dan's extension programs include: MELCAST, a weather-based disease forecasting system for cantaloupe and watermelon; accurate vegetable disease diagnosis including the Purdue Tomato Doctor, and; the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers of which Dan is the lead author. Dan’s extension mission is to encourage the sustainable production of healthy vegetables through the use of integrated pest management and organic systems. He works at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center in Vincennes.


Sanjun Gu, Horticulture Specialist, the Cooperative Extension Program of North Carolina A&T State University
Dr. Gu comes to N.C. A&T State University from Lincoln University of Missouri, where he served as the State Horticulture Specialist and as an Assistant Professor. Prior to that, Dr. Gu was the Viticulture Program Leader at the Kentucky State University. Dr. Gu’s areas of expertise and interest include organic and conventional vegetable production, vegetable grafting, small fruit production, season extension with high tunnels, plant tissue culture, and plant breeding. He also serves as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Co-coordinator for N.C. A&T State University. Gu’s research goal is to increase on-farm efficiency and profitability while maintaining environmental sustainability for the target audience- small, limited-resource farmers in North Carolina. Gu’s current focus is on vegetable grafting and season extension techniques, both organic and conventional, for vegetable and small fruit production. He also conducts applied research on cultivar evaluations such as for heirloom tomato, bell pepper, sweet corn, and salad greens.


Cathleen McCluskey, Communications and Outreach Associate, Organic Seed Alliance
Cathleen McCluskey supports Organic Seed Alliance’s communications, leads the organization’s design work, and organizes the biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where she studied Agricultural Systems Analysis, coordinated food sovereignty campaigns, and organized for federal-level public engagement regarding issues of market concentration in the agriculture sector.


Laurie McKenzie, Research & Education Assistant, Organic Seed Alliance
Laurie McKenzie is the research and education assistant for Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). She holds a master’s degree in plant breeding and genetics from Oregon State University, where her research focused on breeding for organic systems. Laurie has over 10 years of experience in the organic farming and seed world, having spent considerable time doing both production and direct marketing. At OSA Laurie is involved in coordinating field work for breeding and variety trial projects, writing educational guides and materials,
and co-teaching on-farm workshops.


James R. Myers, Professor of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics, Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University
Dr. Myers holds the Baggett-Frazier Endowed Chair of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. He works on a number of crops including dry and snap bean, edible podded pea, broccoli, pepper, tomato, winter and summer squash, and sweet corn. Prior to employment at OSU, he worked as a dry bean breeder at University of Idaho. His main interest has been to improve vegetable varieties for disease resistance and human nutrition while maintaining quality and productivity in improved varieties. Myers is the project director of NOVIC (Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative) and is also breeding tomatoes, broccoli, and summer squash for organic systems. A new venture is to breed for taste and quality through the Culinary Breeding Network. His latest variety release is the high anthocyanin tomato 'Indigo Rose' with two more cherry types on the way.


Jared Zystro, Research and Education Assistant Director, Organic Seed Alliance
Jared Zystro has a master’s degree in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin and has worked in the organic seed industry for over 10 years, managing seed production at two farms and conducting research and education projects with Organic Seed Alliance (OSA). In his work at OSA, he manages regional development in California, conducts participatory breeding projects and variety trials, and teaches farmers about seed production and plant breeding at workshops, conferences, and field days.