ALAN B. BENNETT, Ph.D.
Executive Director | PIPRA
Prof. of Plant Sciences | UC Davis
Full CV | abbennett@ucdavis.edu

Professor Alan Bennett is a member of the Plant Sciences Department at UC Davis and founding Executive Director of the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA).  His research and publications range from plant cell wall disassembly to public policy issues for agriculture. 

(Read More)

From 2004-2008, Alan Bennett served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Davis where he founded and managed InnovationAccess, an organization responsible for technology transfer, business development and support for technology-based economic development in the Sacramento | Davis region. InnovationAccess helped start up 25 companies based on UC Davis research, setting a record for support of entrepreneurship in the region. He also currently serves as the founding Executive Director of the Rockefeller Foundation-supported “Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA)”, an organization of 49 universities dedicated to the collective management of ntellectual property to support broad commercial innovation and humanitarian uses of agricultural technologies.

Bennett is a Fellow of the California Council for Science and Technology (CCST), a science policy advisory council for the State of California, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He also currently serves as a member of the U.S. National Academies' of Science Committee on University Management of Intellectual Property. Bennett earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Biology at UC Davis and Cornell University, respectively and has published over 150 research papers in leading scientific journals and holds several utility patents related to crop quality traits.



Click in the person for more information.      


  • Ann L.T. Powell
    Ann Powell
  • Ann Powell

    ANN L.T. POWELL, Ph.D.
    Associate Research Biochemist | Dept. of Plant Sciences
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | alpowell@ucdavis.edu

    Ann Powell's primary research is focused on understanding the roles of enzymes and proteins in fruit, particularly as they relate to events in the cell wall and the promotion by ripening of susceptibility to rot causing pathogens in tomato. Her research program works on improving the resistance of grape vines to Pierce's Disease caused by Xyllela fastidiosa, reducing the damage caused to alfalfa by Lygus, and delivering antipathogen compounds from transgenic tomato rootstocks to non-transgenic scion. Her group analyzes the function of Arabidopsis transcription factors expressed in tomato. She collaborates on biofuel projects to modify the cell wall disassembly process of wheat and rice stubble and improve the production of starch and lipids by green algae. Email alpowell@ucdavis.edu for further information.

  • Cecilia Chi-Ham
    Cecilia Chi-Ham
  • Cecilia Chi-Ham

    CECILIA CHI-HAM, Ph.D.
    Director Science and Technology | PIPRA
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | clchiham@ucdavis.edu

    Dr. Cecilia Chi-Ham, a native of Honduras, Central America, earned a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at the University of the Ozarks and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2004, upon completing postdoctoral work at Michigan State University in plant biology, Dr. Chi-Ham joined PIPRA. As a plant biologist interested in facilitating agricultural innovations, particularly in developing countries, Dr. Chi-Ham leads PIPRA's Biotechnology Resources Program. The Biotechnology Resources program's activities include developing research tools with maximum freedom-to-operate to support a wide array of agricultural applications for humanitarian and commercial purposes, facilitating technology transfer, building new partnerships and research collaborations, and providing legal information on biotechnology tools. The program's multi-disciplinary activities straddle the delicate junction between science, legal, business development, and regulatory affairs necessary for the research and development of new agricultural innovations in developed and developing countries.

  • Rosa Figueroa-Balderas
    Rosa Balderas
  • Rosa Figueroa-Balderas

    ROSA ELIA FIGUEROA-BALDERAS, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Researcher | PIPRA
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | rfiguero@plantsciences.ucdavis.edu

    Rosa Figueroa-Balderas was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. She completed her master and Ph.D. at the Institute of Biotechnology in the National University of México (IBT-UNAM). Her doctorate research consisted of discovering and understanding the required genetic factors and other factors involved in the regulation and expression of the Phaseolus vulgaris ACCase gene promoter. Rosa is a member of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (SNI, National System of Researchers), which recognizes and distinguishes Mexican scientists with outstanding contributions in science and technology. Recently, she was awarded a UC MEXUS-CONACYT fellowship to conduct research with PIPRA.

  • Javier Lopez
    Javier Lopez
  • Javier Lopez

    JAVIER LOPEZ, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Researcher | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | jlopezb@ucdavis.edu

    Javier Lopez is a Visiting Scholar from Instituto Tecnologico de Oaxaca and earned his PhD at Laval University, investigating sulphate nutrition in hydroponically grown tomatoes. Javier joined the Bennett/Powell lab in February, 2010, on a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Fellowship with a research interest focusing on the function of two tomato transcription factor homologues of A. thaliana Glk1 and Glk2 in the development and function of chloroplasts in tomato fruit.

  • Mark W. Szczerba
    Mark Szczerba
  • Mark W. Szczerba

    MARK W. SZCZERBA, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Researcher | PIPRA
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | mwszczerba@ucdavis.edu

    Mark Szczerba earned his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, where his research focused on physiological aspects of potassium nutrition in barley and rice, including developing methods to study potassium transport and examining how the disruption of potassium acquisition by ammonium or sodium leads to plant toxicity. Mark moved to the University of California, Davis after being awarded a Canadian NSERC postdoctoral fellowship, where he examined nitrogen metabolism in genetically modified rice under conditions of drought. Mark joined PIPRA in May 2010, where he is currently evaluating and monitoring virus resistance in genetically engineered grapevines. Mark has also been investigating an inexpensive hydroponic system for optimizing the therapeutic properties of a tropical plant, for use in Costa Rica.

  • Pablo Zamora
    Pablo Zamora
  • Pablo Zamora

    PABLO ZAMORA, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Researcher | PIPRA
    University of California, Davis
    Full CV | pazamora@ucdavis.edu

    Pablo Zamora joined UC Davis in 2009 to focus on molecular mechanisms involved in plant-environment interaction. Prior to joining UC Davis, Dr. Zamora was a part-time professor at the University of Santiago de Chile where he initiated a variety of research projects with the Institute of Agricultural Research and Chilean Antarctic Institute of Chile. Currently Dr. Zamora's research focuses on the genetics of maize ancestrally grown in nitrogen deficient conditions in the highlands of Mexico. Using a variety of tools such as gene mapping, metabolomics, proteomics, and metagenomics, coupled with biochemistry and breeding approaches, Dr. Zamora and the research team try to understand this unusual adaptation and develop tools to generate plants that can use less fertilizer in the future.


  • Barbara Blanco
    Barbara Blanco
  • Barbara Blanco

    BARBARA BLANCO-ULATE
    PhD Graduate Student | Bennett Lab
    University of California, Davis
    bblanco@ucdavis.edu

    Barbara Blanco-Ulate arrived from San Jose, Costa Rica in February of 2008, to work as a student researcher in our lab. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technical University of Costa Rica. Currently, she is a second-year graduate student in the Plant Biology Graduate Group at UC Davis. Her research focuses in the responses of tomato ripening mutants to the fungal pathogen, Botrytis cinerea. Barbara has made exciting discoveries on how susceptibility to Botrytis is regulated in fruit ripening. Contact her by email at bblanco@ucdavis.edu.

  • Zac Chestnut
    Zac Chestnut
  • Zach Chestnut

    ZACHARY CHESTNUT
    PhD Graduate Student | Bennett Lab
    University of California, Davis
    zachestnut@ucdavis.edu

    Zachary is a Ph.D. candidate in the Plant Biology Graduate Group. His research is focused on the interactions between polygalacturonases (PGs) of pathogens and PG-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) of various plant species that lead to either disease susceptibility or resistance. Pierce’s Disease in grapevines is caused by the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa, whose PG is an important virulence factor. His work predicts and analyzes different PGIPs for their ability to inhibit the Xylella PG and thereby, reduce Pierce’s Disease susceptibility. PGIPs are graft-transmissible so transgenic grapevines expressing an inhibitory PGIP can be used as rootstocks to transfer some degree of resistance to wild-type scions. The end result would be non-transgenic fruiting scion tissue resistance to Pierce’s Disease. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Email zachestnut@ucdavis.edu for further information.

  • Victor Haroldsen
    Victor Haroldsen
  • Victor Haroldsen

    VICTOR HAROLDSEN
    Graduate Student | PIPRA
    University of California, Davis
    haroldsen@ucdavis.edu

    Victor Haroldsen, a graduate student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is working on a pilot project aimed at improving the nutritional quality of horticultural products such as tomatoes for the benefit of developing countries. Specifically he is examining the Vitamin C biosynthetic pathways in tomato leaf and fruit tissues to gain a better understanding of which genes and metabolic pathways are more active in these tissues. He is also examining whether transient assays in fleshy fruits can be used to assess combinatorial effects of transgenes.

  • Calvin Lam
    Calvin Lam
  • Calvin Lam

    CALVIN LAM
    UC Davis undergraduate student | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    clwlam@ucdavis.edu

    Calvin Lam is a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Biotechnology at the University of California, Davis. In the summer of 2010, he began working in the lab as a student assistant. He is currently helping the researchers test responses of tomato ripening mutants to fungal pathogens, including Botrytis cinerea. Calvin hopes to graduate by Spring, 2011.

  • Mar Joseph (Jo) Odias
    Jo Odias
  • Mar Joseph (Jo) Odias

    JO ODIAS
    UC Davis undergraduate | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    mbodias@ucdavis.edu

    Jo is an incoming senior at UC Davis with a major in Biological Sciences and an emphasis in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiverstiy. He has worked in the Plant Sciences Department investigating the biodegrading capabilities of Acidothermus cellulolyticus in switchgrass. He is double majoring in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American and Spanish Literature. For fun he likes taking care of his tropical aquariums, reading and watching American politics and the History Channel. He wants to apply for graduate school in Evolutionary Biology.

  • Jacquelyn Tong
    Jacquelyn Tong
  • Jacquelyn Tong

    JACQUELYN TONG
    UC Davis undergraduate | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    jaxtung@ucdavis.edu

    Jacquelyn Tong is a UC Davis undergraduate student. She expects to graduate in early December 2010, with a Biotechnology major. She has been working with us since May, 2010. She has worked on the biofuels project, looking at the impact of xylanase, expansin and ferulic acid esterase expression on the cell wall phenotypes of rice stubble. Currently she is evaluating the B. cinerea susceptibility of TAGL1 suppressed non-ripening tomato fruit. She hopes to continue her career in research.

  • Thy Thy Ngyen
    Thy Ngyen
  • Thy Thy Ngyen

    THY THY NGYEN
    UC Davis undergraduate | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    tjnguyen@ucdavis.edu

    Thy is a UC Davis undergraduate student majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Technology Management. She expects to graduate in June 2011 and is interested in attending the Physician Assistant program here at UC Davis. She joined the lab on July 2010 and is planning to stay until she graduates. As a student lab assistant, she works on various projects with other members in the lab. In the future, she hopes to travel and experience other countries in the world.

  • Constanza Jackson
    Constanza Jackson
  • Constanza Jackson

    CONSTANZA JACKSON
    Davis High School student | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    constanza.jackson@gmail.com

    Constanza is a Senior at Davis High School. She is working on the Pierce's Disease project, grafting transgenic grape rootstock material with nontransgenic scion. She is applying to colleges for next year and hopes to major in the sciences. She plays the cello and was an intern in Ann Moriarity's Biotechnology Class at DHS.

  • Ka Lai Lam
    Ka Lai Lam
  • Ka Lai Lam

    KA LAI LAM
    Visiting Student Scholar | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    l.kalai@gmail.com

    Ka Lai Lam is a student visitor who arrived from Costa Rica in February, 2010. She came to assemble her senior thesis to earn the bachelor degree in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technological University of Costa Rica. Her research is to analyze the responses of tomato ripening mutants and transgenic lines with suppressed fruit cell wall disassembly enzymes to four fungal pathogens, Alternaria alternata, Geotrichum candidum, Rhizopus stolonifer and Botrytis cinerea. To goal of this project is to provide information for the future development of non-transgenic mutant lines with reduced susceptibility to rotting for use by the California tomato industry.

  • Kathleen Hernandez
    Kathleen Hernandez
  • Kathleen Hernandez

    KATHLEEN HERNANDEZ
    Davis High School student | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    kquesada@ucdavis.edu

    Kathleen Quesada-Hernandez arrived from Cartago, Costa Rica in September of 2010, to work as a student researcher in our lab. She is an undergraduate student from the Technical University of Costa Rica (ITCR) in Agricultural Management Engineering emphases in Food Science (IAA). Her thesis is to perform a value chain mapping and assess the impact of our technology intervention on the medicinal plant Uncaria tomentosa, an ethno-botanical plant native to Central and South America. The technology that has been developing is and hydroponic root production system to produce raw material in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. This plant produces a distinctive composition of alkaloids that act on the immune and nervous system. With the value chain analysis it will contribute with the feasibility of further developing the Cat's Claw industry locally and internationally.

  • Veronica Delgado
    Veronica Delgado
  • Veronica Delgado

    VERONICA DELGADO
    Davis High School student | Bennett/Powell lab
    University of California, Davis
    constanza.jackson@gmail.com

    Veronica Delgado is an undergraduate from Technological Institute of Costa Rica (ITCR) in Biotechnology Engineering. She joined the group in September of 2010 to work as student researcher. Her thesis is based on the segregation for a gene of interest in transgenic Alfalfa by using PCR analysis. Also is developing tissue cultures of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in Transformation facility at UCDavis. Veronica has future aspirations to work as a Scientist Researcher and built her own biotechnology business.