(University of Florida) Cultivating Success: Melanie Cabrera’s Pioneering Work in Plant Breeding

Agriculture in the Sunshine State ranges from tropical fruits to leafy green vegetables, with many crops in between. Launched in 2021, the plant breeding doctoral program teaches University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students how to use traditional and contemporary breeding methodologies to create new cultivars of plants that will contribute to a more food-secure world.  The success of the program is seen through many student achievements, like that of Melanie Cabrera, a plant breeding Ph.D. student and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. 

Cabrera’s journey into the world of plant breeding began with her undergraduate education. Equipped with a Gator degree in plant science, Cabrera began her Ph.D. with prior research experience, a foundation of plant genetics knowledge, and a contagious zeal to improve the food we eat.  

“My plant science degree connected really nicely to what I’m doing now,” Cabrera said. “I discovered a lot of opportunities through my program, like getting to do a Research Experience for Undergraduates, where I spent three months in St. Louis at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. It was after I came back from that where I thought, I should do grad school.”