Paul Gepts receives Chancellor’s Award for International Engagement at UC Davis

Plant Sciences distinguished professor Paul Gepts was one of three recipients of the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for International Engagement at UC Davis. At a reception on March 2, Gepts received the award from UC Davis Chancellor Gary May. Honoring Gepts at the ceremony were:

  • Joanna Regulska (Vice provost and associate chancellor, Global Affairs)
  • Helene Dillard (Dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)
  • Gail Taylor (Chair, Department of Plant Sciences)
  • Charlie Brummer (Gepts’ nominator, and Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, and Director, Plant Breeding Center)
  • Ermias Kebreab (Associate vice provost, Academic Affairs)
  • Many Plant Sciences colleagues of Paul Gepts
Paul Gepts (center) receives International Engagement Award from UC Davis Chancellor Gary May (left). Plant Sciences department chair Gail Taylor is on the right.

Paul Gepts is a native of Belgium, where he obtained the equivalent of an M.S. degree in Agricultural Sciences, with an emphasis on Plant Protection. He then moved to Colombia, South America, to work in the gene bank of the International Center of Tropical Agriculture, where he initiated his studies of beans, which would be the foundation of his professional life.

Gepts completed a Ph.D. in the Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program at the University of Wisconsin with Professor Fred Bliss, where he continued his studies on the biodiversity of beans using molecular approaches and was the first to identify a multiple domestication process in a crop. After a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Riverside with Mike Clegg, Gepts landed a faculty position at UC Davis, which allowed him to expand his work on biodiversity, evolution, and domestication of crops.

From left: Alice Kabeja (grad student), Jim Hill (emeritus faculty), Paul Gepts (distinguished professor), Jorge Berny Mier y Teran (postdoc), Tamara Miller (grad student). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Over the years, his work has spanned activities including botanical explorations in Latin America from Mexico to Argentina, genetic studies that have provided experimental tools that have been adopted by collaborators throughout the world, and information that increase the efficiency of plant breeders in releasing improved crop varieties. At all stages, he has adopted recent technologies that are making research advances more powerful and efficient, like genomics and “drones.”

From left, Plant Sciences professors Kent Bradford, Charlie Brummer, and Paul Gepts. (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Gepts has had large numbers of enthusiastic students and visiting scientists coming from the U.S. and all continents except Antarctica to UC Davis. An extensive network of collaborators in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, and Europe have made research more impacting. His fluency in four languages has helped him in this regard.

From left, Chris van Kessel (emeritus professor, plant sciences), Sharon Shoemaker (food science and technology dept.), Charlie Brummer (professor, plant sciences), and Jim Hill (emeritus Cooperative Extension specialist, plant sciences). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Paul Gepts is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy, and the Crop Science Society of America. He is the recipient of the Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources and of the Louis Malassis Distinguished Scientist Prize, awarded by the Agropolis Foundation of France.

From left: Helene Dillard (Dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences), Joanna Regulska (Vice provost, Global Affairs), Paul Gepts (Plant Sciences distinguished professor). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

The two other recipients of the Chancellor’s Award at the March 2 event were:

  • Patricia Conrad (Associate dean, Global Programs, and professor of Parasitology, School of Veterinary Medicine)
  • Rosalind Christian (Undergraduate advisor, College of Engineering)

See more on the recipients and the event.

(Article by Ann Filmer,, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis)

UC Davis celebrates international engagement, March 2. (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

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