These keynote speakers already confirmed their presence on the symposium:

Cecile Desbiez

 Cecile Desbiez is a research scientist at the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) in Avignon, France. After a PhD on the variability and evolution of zucchini yellow mosaic virus at INRA Avignon, she did a post-doc at University of Kentucky (USA) on the determinants of aphid transmission specificity in potyviruses. Since she got a position at INRA Avignon in 1998, her researches focus mostly on the different aspects of plant virus emergence at different scales “from plant to landscape”, particularly through molecular epidemiology and evolution studies of cucurbit-infecting potyviruses as a model. She has contributed to the knowledge of the viral pathosystem through the characterization of new viruses and the development of serological and molecular diagnostic tools. She also works on the molecular determinants of virus properties –host range, symptomatology, resistance breaking- and their consequences on virus fitness and evolution. Through molecular epidemiology analyses and experimental approaches in controlled conditions, she contributes to characterize the interactions between virus strains at different levels and their epidemiological consequences, as in the case of the rapid strain replacement of watermelon mosaic virus populations that took place in France in the last decade. 


Yaakov (Kobi) Tadmor

  Yaakov (Kobi) Tadmor is a research geneticist with the Newe Ya'ar Research Center at the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Israel. Dr. Tadmor leads the Cucurbit Section of the ARO that combines breeding and research activities, resulting with successful commercial varieties and useful scientific tools and data. His research focuses mostly on cucurbit crops with special emphasis on a) development and discovery of unique plant material for research and breeding, and b) genetic and chemical analyses of quality attributes of agricultural products. Tadmor's integrative research major contributions are to the genetic dissection and mechanistic understanding of coloration processes in cucurbit fruit and in other agricultural products. 

Rebecca Grumet


Rebecca Grumet is a Professor in the Department of Horticulture and the Graduate Program in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology.  She is a W.H. Beal Outstanding Faculty at Michigan State University and a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science.  Her research deals with vegetable genetics and genomics, with a primary emphasis on cucurbit flower and fruit development and disease resistance.  She is currently the lead PI, along with 20 co-PIs, for the USDA-SCRI CucCAP project:  CucCAP: Leveraging applied genomics to increase disease resistance in cucurbit crops (  She also has performed research, teaching and outreach in the area of biotechnology biosafety working both nationally and internationally through USDA-, USAID-, and Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation- funded projects regarding risk assessment for transgenic crops.  R. Grumet has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers, was the lead editor for a book published in 2011 on ‘Environmental Safety of Genetically Engineered Crops’, and in 2017 for ‘Genetics and Genomics of Cucurbitaceae’ along with J. Garcia-Mas and N. Katzir.  R. Grumet has a B.S. degree from Cornell University, M.S. and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and was the recipient of a North Carolina Biotechnology Postdoctoral Fellowship in Plant Molecular Biology at Duke University.