About Us

Learn more about our breeding program, mission, organization, and major objectives at the Rice Experiment Station.

Breeding Program Summary

The primary mission of CCRRF RES is the development of improved rice varieties of all grain and market types to sustain high and stable grain yield and quality with minimum environmental impact for the benefit of California rice growers…

Mission and Funding

Rice variety development research is primarily funded by California Rice Research Board (CRRB) that manages funds received from all California rice producers through California Rice Research Program (CRRP) assessments…

Organization and Policy

Policy and administration of RES is the responsibility of an 11-member Board of Directors elected by the CCRRF membership. Directors serve a three-year term and represent geographical rice growing areas of California…

Major Breeding Objectives

Rice research at RES in 2012 will continue toward the primary objective of developing improved rice varieties for California. Project leaders will concentrate efforts on developing rice varieties for the traditional medium, short, and long-grain market classes…
  • Ashley Averitt

    Maintenance and Operator

    Ashley is a maintenance and operator of California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Deven Benson

    Maintenance and Operator

    Deven is a maintenance and operator of California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Randy Jones

    Field Supervisor

    Randy is the field supervisor of California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Joe Martin

    Plant Breeder Assistant

    Joe is a plant breeder assistant for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF). His primary focus at CCRRF is to assist in the short grain breeding program. He received his BS in Plant Biology from the University of California Davis. He is currently enrolled in the Plant Breeding Academy at UC Davis to help further his knowledge in plant breeding.

  • Gabriel Janish

    Plant Breeder Assistant

    Gabriel is a plant breeder assistant for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Davinder Singh

    Plant Breeder Assistant

    Davinder is a plant breeder assistant for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF). His primary focus at CCRRF is to assist in the long grain breeding program.

  • Ravinder Gakhal

    Senior Plant Breeder Assistant

    Ravinder is a senior plant breeder assistant for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF). His primary focus at CCRRF is to assist in the medium grain breeding program.

  • Baldish Deol

    Senior Plant Breeder Assistant

    Baldish is a senior plant breeder assistant for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • George Yeltatzie

    Genetics Lab Technician

    George is the genetics lab technician for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Frank Maulana, Ph.D.

    Short Grain Breeder

    Dr. Frank Maulana is a rice breeder for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF). He is leading a short grain breeding program to develop improved short grain rice varieties for five market classes, including conventional or regular, low amylose, sweet or waxy, premium quality and arborio or bold grain. The objectives of the program include developing rice varieties with high and stable yield, high milling grain yield, seedling vigor, cold tolerance, lodging resistance, and disease resistance. He received a BS in Crop Science from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi. Then, he worked as a plant breeder at the Agricultural Research and Extension Trust (ARET) for five years. He then went on to obtain PhD and MS in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Kansas State University (KSU), Manhattan, KS. Before joining CCRRF, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter-Rice Breeding program. His research project at LSU focused on implementation of genomic selection in an applied rice breeding program.

  • Gretchen Zaunbrecher, Ph.D.

    Genetics Lab Director

    Dr. Zaunbrecher is the Genetics Lab Director for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF).  The Genetics Lab utilizes marker assisted analysis to provide valuable genetic information to assist the breeders in rice varietal improvement.  In addition, through traditional mutational breeding as well as gene editing, we hope to develop new varieties of rice with enhanced yield, herbicide, and disease resistance, and other agronomically valuable traits.

  • Nirmal Sharma, Ph.D.

    Long Grain Breeder

    Dr. Nirmal Sharma is a plant breeder for the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF), leading the long grain breeding project and incorporating disease resistance, high milling yield, seedling vigor, cold tolerance, and herbicide resistance into future rice varieties. He received his BS in Agriculture and MS in Biotechnology from Bangladesh Agricultural University. Then, he worked as a breeder in the Plant Breeding Division of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) for several years. Next, he moved to the United States to pursue his PhD in crop sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Upon completing his degree, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Noble Research Institute before joining CCRRF.

  • Teresa B. De Leon, Ph.D.

    Medium Grain Breeder

    Dr. Teresa B. De Leon is currently leading the improvement and variety development of CCRRF medium grain project. She previously led the short grain breeding project from 2018-2021. Prior to her employment at the station, she worked as Plant Geneticist to University of California Davis for identification, origin, and prevention of weedy red rice. She developed pre-breeding and introgression lines of Louisiana rice with improved salinity tolerance for Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. As Assistant Scientist and Research Scholar, she has also worked at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and University of the Philippines at Los Banos on disease resistance of rice and other crops. With several years of experience in rice research and development, Dr. De Leon is integrating the use of conventional and molecular tools in breeding for medium grains with high yield potential, high grain quality, wide adaptation, cold tolerance, disease and herbicide resistance, and most importantly, a rice with excellent cooking and taste quality for consumers.

  • Emily Schaaf

    Executive Assistant

    Emily is the executive assistant of California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

  • Dustin Harrell, Ph.D.

    Director

    Dr. Dustin Harrell has been the Director of the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation Rice Experiment Station since November of 2021. Prior to his current leadership position, he held positions as the Resident Coordinator of the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station, the Extension Rice Specialist for the state of Louisiana, and the project leader for the Rice Fertility and Agronomy Project at the LSU Rice Experiment Station.