Breeding the Best Strawberries


Event Date

392 Old Davis Road, Davis, CA 95616


If you love strawberries, you've probably eaten one from the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program without knowing it! The breeding program's legacy dates back to the 1930s, and to this day, 60% of the varieties grown in California are derived from UC Davis. You'll taste four varieties and hear how UC Davis addresses the soilborne disease Fusarium wilt and growing concerns from the industry.

Following the program, Guittard Chocolate Company will provide selected chocolates to pair with strawberries for the attendees.


The lecture will be in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater on the UC Davis Campus. Seating is limited. Tickets are $30 per person (students: $15) and include a welcome reception with hosted bar before the lecture and light refreshments following the program.


Hillary Q Thomas

Dr. Hillary Thomas is currently the Research and Technical Director at Naturipe Berry Growers, Inc., where she focuses on the development and commercialization of applied agricultural research programs in berry production.  She received her doctorate in Entomology in 2009 from UC Davis and went on to serve as a Science and Technology fellow in the California state legislature in the office of Fiona Ma.  She also served as the former senior manager of the Research Department at the California Strawberry Commission from 2011-2015 and is a Fruit and Veg class of 2019 40 under 40 award recipient.

Steven Knapp

Steven Knapp is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program director at UC Davis. Their research focuses on the breeding, genetics, and genomics of strawberries, including the development, testing, and deployment of genetically superior cultivars, identifying and understanding genetic factors underlying economically significant phenotypes, enabling and applying marker-assisted selection and genomic selection, and advancing high-throughput genotyping and phenotyping approaches in strawberry.

Glenn S. Cole

Glenn Cole spent 32 years working on agriculture research in the seed industry before joining Dr. Steve Knapp in 2015 to help run the strawberry breeding program at UC Davis. His experience spans breeding and developing many crops, including alfalfa, wheat, melons, tomatoes, pepper, sunflower, and strawberry. For most of his career, he focused on developing and testing sunflower inbreds and hybrids for the oilseed product markets in North and South America, Europe, and Australia. He has a particular interest in identifying and incorporating valuable traits from wild species and exotic sources into the domesticated crop of interest. Genetic diversity is a critical component of any breeding program, and creatively implementing proper strategies to capture the value of that diversity is the challenge he likes most. Cole loves spending time with family and friends close to home and abroad. He loves to travel and experience the culture, food, and wine of different regions of the world. He loves spending time outdoors enjoying nature, hiking, birding, gardening, and the like.


Watch the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences video to preview the UC Davis Strawberry Breeding Program.


This event is part of the Forum: Talks on Food & Wine Sciences series, which presents an array of research and scientific advancements in the disciplines of wine, brewing, and food sciences to demonstrate the importance of UC Davis to the food and beverage industry.

Venue & Parking:

This event will be in-person at Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at the Robert Mondavi Institute, Sensory Building. Parking is available at the Gateway Parking Structure. Parking payment is enforced on weekdays. There are three options for parking payment:

  1. UC Davis uses AggiePark via the AMP app – please be sure to download the app ahead of time and set up your profile. Select the zone which you parked using the map or icon in the top right corner of the app. This is the preferred and easiest method.

  2. If you do not have a smartphone to download the app, you can also sign up for an account online and follow the steps on the website:

  3. Alternatively, permit machines in the Gateway Parking Structure accept credit cards. You will need to enter your license plate number into the machine to purchase a permit. We recommend this option as a last choice.


If you have questions about this event, please email