Maeli Melotto and Diane Beckles Awarded Fellowships in Israel

Two professors in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis have been awarded fellowships for the Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel. Maeli Melotto, an expert in plant-microbe interactions, and Diane Beckles, an expert in postharvest biochemistry and molecular physiology, are among 26 faculty across the U.S. who received the competitive academic fellowship.

The program links invited faculty members from diverse disciplines in the U.S. with Israeli counterparts at major institutions to initiate exchanges and collaborations. Participants will travel throughout Israel in June, meeting Israeli professors with similar research interests — all with the goal of developing collaborations, research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs between faculty and students. The two-week program is sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Media Watch International.

Maeli Melotto, UC Davis

UC Davis connections with the program

Melotto and Shlomo Sela, a research professor at the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Volcani Center, Israel, have already received separate funding through the U.S. NIFA-BARD partnership to work on food-safety issues related to human-pathogen behavior on lettuce and other leafy vegetables, which are important crops in both the U.S. and Israel. They will study Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella enterica on vegetable crops.

“One of my goals is to further the partnership by hosting visiting scholars between our institutions,” said Melotto. “This global exchange of information helps improve food safety throughout the world.”

Beckles plans to broaden contact with research scientists in her field to establish productive collaborations. She is especially interested in better understanding the agricultural research, teaching, and outreach continuum in Israel, and how their social and cultural values shape their collective national buy-in of making ‘the desert bloom.’

“There is a lot to learn from Israel,” said Beckles, “and I want to infuse that in my teaching, both here at UC Davis, and in institutions abroad that I partner with and which have nascent academic programs.”

Diane Beckles, UC Davis

Summer Institute connections between the U.S. and Israel

The entire group of faculty in the program will also meet with experts in government, industry, education, media, and other sectors to understand Israel’s evolving national and international policies, its success in water innovation, and how the country addresses regional and global challenges.

In addition to Melotto and Beckles at UC Davis, the other 24 recipients are from the University of Southern California, San Jose State University, University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, University of Florida, University of Missouri, University of Georgia, Ohio State University, West Virginia University, DePaul University, Illinois State University, Lincoln University, George Mason University, Oakland University, New Mexico State University, and Stevens Institute of Technology,

Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis

UC Davis is ranked No. 1 in the world in plant and animal sciences. The Department of Plant Sciences is a leader in the research, teaching, and delivery of all aspects of plant sciences, from lab to field, forest, rangeland, and beyond. The department addresses the world’s agricultural, ecological, and environmental needs through cutting-edge science, dynamic undergraduate and graduate education, and exemplary outreach.

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