Staff Spotlights

Learn more about our team members — what it is that they do, how their research is impacting the grape and wine industries, and what keeps them going when things get discouraging.

Daniel ZendlerDaniel Zendler
Postdoctoral Associate, Julius-Kühn Institute
German scientist Daniel Zendler, a leading expert on the Ren3 and Ren9 genes for powdery mildew resistance, spent the summer of 2019 working with the VitisGen2 team at Cornell AgriTech’s campus to target the location on the genome of these resistance markers, as well as determining how broadly effective they are against different strains of powdery mildew. You can read more about these research goals and findings in our article: “International collaboration advances research into grape disease resistance“.

 

Ugo IkeoguUgochukwu “Ugo” Ikeogu
Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University
Ugo has a dual role in VitisGen2 as Project Manager and as a Post-Doctoral Associate. As project manager, he facilitates communications between the teams, and keeps the project organized and running smoothly. In addition, he has vast experience with genetics and phenotyping.

 

Olena SambucciOlena Sambucci
Postdoctoral Associate, UC Davis
Olena focuses on economic payoffs to varietal innovation in table grapes, including traits such as flavor and disease resistance.

 

 

Melanie MassonetMélanie Massonnet
Postdoctoral Associate, UC Davis
Mélanie works on genome-wide analyses of breeding populations, in order to be able to layer multiple desirable traits such as disease resistance and wine grape quality.

 

 

Cheng ZouCheng Zou
Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University
Cheng uses bioinformatics tools to assist grape breeding. For example: designing more efficient molecular markers using whole genome de novo assembly, integrated data-mining of the genetic data, and other information processing tasks.

 

Lu Yin headshotLu Yin
PhD candidate, University of Minnesota
Lu Yin works with Dr. Matthew Clark’s grape breeding program, investigating grape genetic resistance to phylloxera, a gall-forming insect pest of grapes.

 

 

Surya Sapkota's headshot, in a vineyard and holding a ziplock bag full of grapesSurya Sapkota
Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University
Surya sets up, inoculates, and processes grape leaf tissue samples for powdery mildew resistance assessments. He collaborates with experts in robotics, machine vision, optics, microscopy, and image analysis to make this process go more quickly and efficiently.

 

Janet van Zoeren's headshotJanet van Zoeren
Viticulture extension support specialist, Cornell University
Janet provides web design and updates, write articles about team findings and publications, and generally helps the VitisGen2 program reach a broader audience.