Message From Our Chair

Gail Taylor, Professor and Department Chair
Gail Taylor, Professor and Department Chair

Welcome to the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. We routinely rank first in the world for Plant and Animal Sciences and you will find a dynamic department committed to delivering science that translates basic knowledge to address some of the pressing global challenges currently facing society. Plants are central to developing solutions to those problems and we all depend on plants for our existence. Challenges include climate change, food and fuel security, and the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity. We are tackling these issues, using research that extends from molecular science through to that on ecosystems and beyond.

Specialties in the department include genetics, genomics, plant breeding and biodiversity; crop sciences including modelling; plant physiology, nutrition and development; weed sciences; urban agriculture and forestry; ecosystem management, conservation and restoration. The department provides a vibrant hub of activity for over 70 full-time professors, up to 750 undergraduate and over 120 graduate students. We are based in eight buildings across the UC Davis campus, with extensive facilities including 1,000 acres of farmland adjacent to campus, access to over 100 controlled environments, extensive genomic technologies in the Genome Center and 150 acres of unique fruit and nut orchards at the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards.

We are home to five undergraduate majors including International Agricultural Development (IAD), Plant Sciences, Biotechnology, Environmental Horticulture and Urban Forestry, and Ecological Management and Restoration. The curriculum in each of these degrees is designed to offer an outstanding science training coupled with experiential teaching to develop skill-sets for many plant, laboratory and environment-focused careers.

Our faculty offer graduate students mentorship in several graduate groups across the campus including in Ecology, Energy Systems, Horticulture and Agronomy, Plant Biology, Plant Pathology, Population Biology, Soils and Biogeochemistry, and Viticulture and Enology. Each year, up to twenty Graduate Research Assistantship awards are available to support the research of our students, provided by several long-term endowments to the department.

Our faculty continue to make extraordinary discoveries in science, publish new papers, release new improved plant varieties in crops ranging from strawberries to wheat and walnuts. They find ways to grow crops more efficiently, and systems to conserve and manage landscapes more effectively. They are quantifying how future climates will impact plants. At the same time, all of our faculty, but particularly our extension specialists, work tirelessly with our stakeholder communities, be they growers, farmers, commodity groups, state authorities and those with statutory responsibilities affecting the land. Each of these groups is important to us. Together, we are committed to Translational Plant Sciences that turn knowledge into action for food, fuel and landscape. We are always keen to hear from individuals and organizations who would like to join us.

Dr. Gail Taylor, Chair of Plant Sciences