Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California
Seed Biotechnology Center

Van Deynze Research Team

Macarena Farcuh, Shiyu Chen, Theresa Hill, Randi Jimenez, Sirisupa Sripolcharoen, Cris Heitmann, Allen Van Deynze, Armando Garcia-Llanos (L to R)
Macarena Farcuh, Shiyu Chen, Theresa Hill, Randi Jimenez, Sirisupa Sripolcharoen, Cris Heitmann, Allen Van Deynze, Armando Garcia-Llanos (L to R)

Theresa Hill

Theresa Hill - Copy

Senior Research Associate 


Theresa received her B.S. in biology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and her Ph.D. in biology with emphasis in plant molecular and developmental biology from Yale University. She did post doctorates in plant molecular genetics at UC Davis and USDA-ARS-WRRC. Theresa is responsible for large scale microarray experiments for massively parallel detection and mapping of DNA markers in pepper.


Randi Jimenez


Graduate Student Researcher


Randi received her B.S. in Plant Biotechnology at UC Davis in 2009. In 2012, she completed her M.Sc. in Horticulture and Agronomy at UC Davis working with transcription factors in Arabidopsis and tomato. She has interned in industry in the Cell Biology Group at HM Clause and in the Plant Pathology Research Team at Driscoll’s Inc. Randi is a National Science Foundation fellow, and her work in the Van Deynze lab involves finding QTL for Beet Curly Top Virus resistance and breeding for Geminivirus resistance in peppers.



Shiyu Chen

Shiyu Chen

Post-Doctoral Researcher 


Shiyu Chen received her B.S. degree with a focus on forage breeding and M.S. in forage seed physiology at China Agricultural University. She received her PhD degree in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program at University of Wisconsin-Madison, focusing on quantitative genetics of cell wall traits in switchgrass for bioenergy production using sequencing data. Here at UC Davis, she is working on generating and processing next-generation sequencing data, genome assembly, annotation and genetic mapping of important crops in California using bioinformatic and statistical tools.


Macarena Farcuh

Farcuh LinkIn pic

Post-Doctoral Researcher


Macarena received her B.S. in Agricultural Engineering and her M.S. degree in Agricultural Sciences with focus on Fruit Postharvest Physiology/Biology from the University of Chile. She worked for four years in the private/academic sectors in Chile, targeting the improvement of fruit overall quality/nutritional value and shelf-life capacity from a cross-functional perspective. She received her PhD in Horticulture and Agronomy at University of California, Davis, where she used a Systems Biology approach to dissect fruit quality-related pathways, with emphasis in sugar metabolism and hormone balance throughout ripening on-the-tree and postharvest storage. In her actual Post-Doctoral position, she is working on the identification of breeding targets for texture and flavor improvement in HMClause melon breeding program by combining sensory, physiological, biochemical and transcriptomic studies.


Armando Garcia-Llanos

Armando Garcia-Llanos, photo

Laboratory Manager


Armando completed a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutritional Biology from UC Davis in 2014. Previous to joining Dr. Van Deynze’s team, he worked in a maize sustainability project in various research facets. Armando is responsible for supporting and managing projects related to application of genomics to plant breeding in the lab, greenhouse and field. His interests range from understanding the relationship between symbiotic microorganisms and plants to improve sustainable agricultural practices, to international agricultural research and nutrition.


Samantha Hilborn

Samantha Hilborn

Graduate Student Researcher


Samantha received her B.S. in horticulture from New Mexico State University in 2017. Currently, she is working on her M.S. in horticulture under Allen Van Deynze and Charlie Brummer, focusing on genetic resistance to downy mildew in spinach.


Sirisupa (Trent) Sripolcharoen

Trent Sripolcharoen, photo

Graduate Student Researcher


Sirisupa (Trent) received his B.S. in Plant Sciences at UC Davis in 2016. He is interested in plant tissue culture and biochemistry. Currently, he’s working on somatic regeneration capacity of C. annuum in tissue culture and genome editing in G. hirsutum using third generation base editor.



Mychele Batista Da Silva

Mychele Batista Da Silva

Post-Doctoral Researcher


Mychele is from Sao Paulo, Brazil. She received her undergraduate degree in Agronomy from Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil. As an undergraduate, she studied abroad at Iowa State University, returning later to pursue her Master's degree in Plant Pathology working with nematodes in corn. In 2018, Mychele received her Ph.D. in plant pathology at University of Georgia, working with resistance on cotton to Meloidogyne incognita and Fusarium wilt. In her spare time, she enjoys volleyball, biking, traveling and spending time with family and friends.


Cris Heitmann

Cristobal Heitmann

Graduate Student Researcher


Cris graduated as an Agronomical Engineer, Universidad Mayor, Chile in 2011. He then worked as an agronomist and station manager for Tuniche Seed Services in Chile. In 2014, he joined UC Davis as a field manager on an international maize project with Dr. Alan Bennett and Dr. Allen Van Deynze. In 2016, he began his Masters working on Nitrogen fixation in maize with Allen Van Deynze. He completed his thesis in Spring 2018. Cris joined Driscoll’s in Dec 2018 as a nursery Research Manager.


Juliana Osorio Marin


Postdoctoral Researcher/Spinach Breeder Lead


Juliana received her B.Sc. in Agronomy Engineering in her home country, Colombia. She then moved to the States and received a M. Sc. in Crop Sciences from University of Arkansas with emphasis in Cotton Biotechnology in, and Ph. D. in Plant Breeding with emphasis in Cotton Breeding from Texas A&M University in. Following her gad studies, she moved to California and worked with Monsanto Vegetable Seeds, in Woodland CA, as Research Associate in the squash breeding team. Since 2016, Juliana has been with UC Davis managing the spinach breeding program with Charlie Brummer and Allen Van Deynze. The Spinach Breeding program at UC Davis focuses on developing baby leaf spinach with broad genetic resistance to downy mildew, a devastating disease for California growers, as well as developing cultivars with reduction in cadmium accumulation.  


Previous Lab Members

Hamid Ashrafi

Hamid Ashrafi - Copy

Blueberry Breeder
University of North Carolina



Hamid Ashrafi, Research Associate, received his B.S. in agronomy and plant breeding from the University of Technology, Iran, and M.Sc. in plant breeding from Azad University, Tehran, Iran.  Hamid received his Ph.D. in genetics from Pennsylvania State University in August 2007. He is interested in plant breeding and genetics, with special interests in molecular breeding through marker assisted selection, genetic mapping, QTL analysis, and application of statistical methods. He was responsible for microarray data analysis, high-throughput data analysis, marker development, bioinformatics, database management, and software development. He is currently working at the University of North Carolina as a Blueberry Breeder.

Vincenzo Cassibba


Undergraduate Student Researcher



Alddo Chaverri


Undergraduate Student Researcher 


Alddo Chaverri, Undergraduate Student Researcher from Costa Rica is completing his thesis for B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC). He’s interested in molecular biology, bioinformatics, microbiology and genetics. Currently he’s working on microspore culture to find genes responsible for androgenesis of pepper using transcriptome data and QTL analisis.


Jareerat Chunthawodtiporn





Nicholas Eattock


Graduate Student 


Nicholas Eattock was a Graduate Student Researcher in the Van Deynze lab, working to complete his M.Sc. degree in Horticulture and Agronomy. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in the field of Biotechnology from UC Davis in 2003 and his current work involves characterizing the effects of drought on a switchgrass for cellulosic biofuel production.


Rachel F. Greenhut

Rachel F. Greenhut, Graduate Student Researcher, UC Davis

Field Scientist, Hi Fidelity Genetics, Raleigh, NC


Rachel F. Greenhut received her B.Sc. in Plant Sciences from Cornell University in 2008 with honors in research. She then worked in industry as an assistant watermelon breeder at Syngenta Seeds in Naples, FL. Following that, she worked for the USDA-ARS in Davis, CA as a biological science technician, implementing research focused on carbon and nitrogen cycling in vineyards and bacterial pathogens of tree crops. Rachel received her M.Sc. in Horticulture and Agronomy in 2018 under Drs. Charlie Brummer and Allen Van Deynze, researching the phenotypic and genetic variation in spinach germplasm related to cadmium accumulation, for marker assisted breeding of reduced cadmium spinach. Rachel was a recipient of a National Needs Graduate Fellowship Grant which aims to train plant breeders from diverse backgrounds.


Eric Hoeft





Amanda Hulse-Kemp

Amanda Hulse-Kemp

Postdoctural Research Scholar 

Amanda received a BSc. Degree in Biology and Animal Biotechnology from the University of Nevada, Reno and her Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University where she received a number of awards including the Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Graduate Research and the Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research. Her doctoral work was concentrated on technology development and integrating physical and linkage mapping for generating a reference grade genome sequence for allotetraploid cotton. Her current research focuses on bioinformatics, resource development and integration of genomics and biotechnology tools for enhancing breeding of vegetables and other crops, including, spinach, coffee, cotton, tomato, and pepper.


Jessica Lund


Junior Specialist


Jessica Lund, Junior Specialist, graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity. Jessica was responsible for designing and analyzing genotyping data for cotton mapping using Illumina and evaluating Affymetrix GENECHIP for DNA marker discovery in cotton and also undertook a gene flow study in the field.


Sharon Luong


Junior Specialist


Sharon Luong, Junior Specialist, graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, emphasis in evolution and ecology. Sharon worked on a hydroponics experiment evaluating genes identified in the model plant Arabidopsis for their potential to improve nitrogen use efficiency in tomato.


Abraham Morales


Graduate Student Researcher


Abraham Morales, former Undergraduate Student Researcher, from Costa Rica completed his thesis for the B.S. in Engineering in Biotechnology from the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.  Abraham is interested in genomics and bioinformatics. His position in the Van Deynze lab included working with the genes under QTLs related to the capsaicinoids production in pepper. His research combined bioinformatics (manipulation of genomes, annotated transcriptomes and markers) with molecular tools (such as qPCR to analyze the expression of genes), in order to determine final candidate genes. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate with Dr. Dario Cantu, UC Davis.


Tui Ray


Associate Specialist 


Tui Ray, Associate Specialist, received her B. Sc., M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with an emphasis on molecular genetics from University of Calcutta, India. She worked as a Research Associate in The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Ardmore, OK on plant molecular biology and genomics. She is working on microspore culture for finding genes involved in androgenesis of pepper.


Zeb Rehrig


Graduate Student Researcher 


Zeb Rehrig, a former Graduate Student Researcher, received his B.S. in Horticulture at Colorado State University. At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he completed his M.Sc. in Tropical Plants and Soil Science, with research related to the tissue culture of recalcitrant orchid species, Paphiopedilum. He then joined the Maize Trait Integration program within the Monsanto Breeding Technology group which oversaw the integration of new biotech traits in elite inbred lines. Zeb’s work in the Van Deynze lab involved Phytophthora resistance in peppers using QTLs. He currently works as on Onion Breeder at Enza Zaden in San Juan Batista.

National Association Plant Breeders Interview with William (Zeb) Rehrig - August 2012


Sebastian Reyes Chin-Wo


Junior Specialist


Sebastian Reyes Chin-Wo, Junior Specialist from Costa Rica, received his B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering from the Instituto Tecnologico de Costa Rica in 2010. He is interested in genetics and bioinformatics, and focused on expression analysis and genetic mapping. Sebastian analyzed microarray data, marker development, web design and software development.


Riccardo Rinaldi





Kevin Stoffel

Kevin Stoffel - Copy

Senior Research Associate/M.Sc Fall 2007


Kevin Stoffel, Senior Research Associate/M.Sc. Fall 2007, received a B.S. in Genetics from UC Davis in 2003. Kevin developed lettuce hybridization protocols and target preparation. Kevin completed numerous other projects including work in tomato and cotton SNP discovery.


Hans van Leeuwen


Postdoctoral Researcher


Hans van Leeuwen, Postdoctoral Researcher, received his B.S. in Horticulture from the Agricultural College Delft, The Netherlands. He received a M.Sc. degree in Plant Breeding and Crop Protection from Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands and will receive a second M.Sc. in Bioinformatics from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Hans received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Barcelona, Spain. He was responsible for microarray data analysis, high-throughput data analysis, genetical genomics, marker development, bioinformatics, database management, and software development.


Jurriaan Visser

Jurriaan Visser

Undergraduate Student   Researcher 

Jurriaan Visser, undergraduate student researcher from the Netherlands, is completing his thesis for a B.S. in Biotechnology from the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Jurriaan is interested in molecular biology, bioinformatics, genetics and genomics. He is currently working on a bulk segregant analysis for fruit morphology in peppers.


Shawn Yarnes


Postdoctoral Researcher 


Shawn Yarnes, Postdoctoral Researcher, received her B.S. in Ecology and Environmental Science from Appalachian State University, and completed her M.S. in Biology and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at New Mexico State University.  She held a postdoctoral research position at The American Chestnut Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to breed blight resistant American chestnut trees for ecosystem restoration.  She is interested in genetics and plant breeding, with a special interest in plant-microbe interactions.  She was responsible for phenotypic trait assessment and QTL mapping within the Van Deynze lab.


Marcelo Solano






Webmaster Email: