Plant Biotechnology Section Officers

Sadanand Dhekney
University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Dr. Sadanand Dhekney is an Associate Professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. He received a PhD in Horticulture from the University of Florida (UF), which was followed by post-doctoral research at UF and Assistant/Associate Professor positions at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Dhekney’s research focuses on genetic improvement of perennial fruit species using in vitro culture and biotechnological approaches. His current research is directed towards grapevine genetic improvement using precision breeding and genome editing. Dr. Dhekney is also actively involved in teaching several courses in plant biotechnology and horticulture. Dr. Dhekney has a long association with the Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB). He has received the 2013 Young Scientist Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology, the 2016 Early Career Research Achievement Award from the University of Wyoming and the 2017 Excellence in Research and Teaching award from the National Agricultural Honor Society, Gama Sigma Delta.
Ian S. Curtis
Vice Chair

Dr. Ian Curtis received a B. Sc. (Hons) in Agricultural Botany from University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in
1989 and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Plant Biotechnology from University of Leicester in 1990. During his post-graduate training he received the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) bronze medal for his work on the micropropagation and tissue culture of commercial lily. In 1990, Ian was awarded a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Feed (MAFF) scholarship to undertake a M. Sc. in Agricultural Biotechnology at University of Newcastle Upon-Tyne. After receiving his M. Sc. the following year, Ian undertook a Ph. D. in Life Science at University of Nottingham. In 1995, he continued to work at Nottingham as a post-doctorate for a MAFF-funded project entitled ‘Inducing dwarfism in ornamental plants by genetic manipulation’. In 1999, Ian was appointed Assistant Professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea, to work on developing a gene transfer system for radish. In 2003, he moved to the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), Tsukuba, Japan, as Associate Professor to work on the production of high yielding dwarf rice by modifying GA catabolism and develop a gene transfer system for Japanese soybean varieties. In 2005, Ian returned to the UK to work as a manager of a transformation core facility at the University of Leeds. In 2008, Ian moved to AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University Systems, Weslaco, USA, to work on major agricultural diseases of the US including citrus greening disease on sweet orange and grapefruit, zebra chip disease in potato and develop a gene transfer system for western shipper melon. In 2011, Ian was hired initially as Cereal Transformation Specialist at Chromatin Inc., to develop a highly efficient, reliable and reproducible gene transfer system in sorghum for the generation of bio-fuel products. Since 2017, Ian has moved into consulting
roles with several startup biotechnology companies including Benson Hill Biosystems, Plastomics and currently with Edison Agrosciences.
Veena Veena
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Dr. Veena Veena was born and raised in New Delhi, India. She received a Ph.D. on the molecular and functional characterization of glyoxalase I in plants from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi under the supervision of Padamshree Prof. Sudhir Sopory (former Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University). Her post-doctoral research first with Prof. Stan Gelvin (Purdue University) and subsequently with Dr. Chris Taylor (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center) focused on understanding the molecular basis of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and hairy root formation. In 2008, Dr. Veena joined Monsanto (now Bayer) as a Senior Scientist and contributed towards the development of novel, high-throughput tools for the evaluation of genes, promoter elements for binary vectors, genome-modification technologies for plant transformation pipeline, and establishment of the selectable-marker free transgenic pipeline. While at Monsanto, she received cross-functional training in business strategy and received a degree in MBA from the University of Saint Louis-Missouri. In September 2016, Dr. Veena accepted the position of Director of Plant Transformation Facility & Principal Investigator at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Saint Louis, MO. Her current research interests include the exploration of novel approaches for plant genetic engineering and genome modification technologies to enable plant biology research for crop improvement. The active transformation projects include Setaria (foxtail millet), corn, sorghum, soybean, and sunflower. Her interests also include the business strategy for transgenic product development, technology acquisition, and stewardship of transgenic plants.

2021 Plant Section Program Chairs


Angela Labrum
2021 Plant Program Chair
Bailey Nurseries

Max Jones
2021 Plant Program Sr. Co-Chair
University of Guelph
Annie Saltarikos
2021 Plant Program Jr. Co-Chair
Bayer U.S. – Crop Science
Plant Section Bylaws
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