Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Colombia. I have worked as a plant breeder for about 11 years. I was the former research and development director for Ball Horticultural in Colombia in charge of five breeding programs and overseeing work in Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru and China. I am an orchidologist, focused on orchids native to Colombia. I love plants, music and I am a proud father of one daughter.
What do you study?
I am working on vanilla orchids genetics, focusing on three species: Vanilla planifolia, V. pompona and V. odorata. My work focuses on developing genomic information and tools that can improve vanilla breeding programs, especially for Florida, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
Why did you select UF/IFAS CALS to pursue your Ph.D. in plant breeding?
A former colleague of mine, Jason Jandrew, is the breeding director for Ball Horticultural, and he studied plant breeding at UF/IFAS. He was a great mentor during my work in that company, and I always admired his breeding understanding and leadership. Also, a friend of mine who is a professor at Cornell University suggested I should apply to UF/IFAS.
What are your goals for the future?
I hope I can get a good job breeding plants and developing research. I love science, and I would like to keep myself involved in the development of knowledge about plants and how we can use them for the benefit of humankind as well as for harmonizing life on earth. I also hope I can generate a positive impact in the development of plant sciences in Colombia and generate further breeding initiatives there.