Keynote Speakers

John McKay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Plant Evolutionary Genomics
Colorado State University

John McKay is an Associate Professor of Plant Evolutionary Genomics at Colorado State (CSU), where he has been on the faculty since 2006 and the Founder and Director of Genetics at New West Genetics, a hemp breeding company. Prior to CSU, McKay was a Postdoctoral Fellow and then Research Scientist at UC Davis. McKay received his PhD from the University of Montana, working with his advisor Dr. Thomas Mitchell-Olds. In his current position at CSU, McKay leads a research group working on the genetics of adaptation. To date most of McKay’s publications have focused on the model plant Arabidopsis Thaliana due to the relative ease of "getting to genes" in this model system. He also conducts public sector research on several crops including rice and Brassica napus. In all of Mckay’s study systems, he integrates across levels of inquiry by examining evolution and gene function at both the phenotypic and molecular levels. His ultimate goal is to determine why, as well as how, these plant genomes have evolved with respect to functional variation in agricultural and physiological traits important in local adaptation to climate. McKay’s publications have been cited over 2,500 times, and he regularly serves on scientific review panels in the US and internationally.

Claus Hellerbrand, M.D.
Professor for Experimental Hepatology
Department of Internal Medicine I
University of Regensburg

Dr. Hellerbrand is Professor for Experimental Hepatology at the University Regensburg in Germany. He received his medical degree from the University of Munich. During his three-year postdoctoral research training at the Department of Medicine, Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he started to study pathophysiology of chronic liver diseases. He completed a residency in Medicine at the University Hospital in Regensburg and joined the Board for Internal Medicine in 2004. Since 2005 he is Head of the Laboratories of the Department of Internal Medicine of the University Hospital Regensburg. Dr.Hellerbrand's research centers on the development and pathogenesis of hepatic disorders ( He published more than 170 Original Publications (total Impact-Factor >800) and 33 Reviews and Book Chapters (Hirsch-Index: 38). One major research focus is the analysis of beneficial effects of hop constituents on the development and progression of chronic liver disease and the metabolic syndrome. Among his major research accomplishments are the demonstration that xanthohumol protects from acute and chronic liver injury and inhibits growth and metastasis of liver cancer. He serves as Associate Editor for the American Journal of Digestive Disease, BMC Gastroenterology and Clinical Phytoscience. He is on the editorial board for several journals in the field of hepatology and reviewer for all of the top-tier medical journals.

Martin Steinhaus, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Lebensmittelchemie (German Research Center for Food Chemistry)
Leibniz Institute

Martin Steinhaus studied chemistry and food chemistry at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. In 2001 he received his PhD for a thesis on aroma-active compounds in hops from the Chemistry Department of the Technical University of Munich in Garching. In three years of postdoctoral research he clarified the sources of off-flavor compounds in pepper. In 2004 he joined the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, an Institute of the Leibniz Association, as a Senior Research Scientist. His basic research interest is the identification of the key aroma compounds in food and their changes during processing. A special focus of his work is on odor-active organosulfur compounds. In recent years, he has particularly been working with tropical fruits and herbs, but he is currently also engaged in several research projects on hop aroma compounds.

Florence Negre-Zakarov, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Plant Sciences
University of California at Davis

Florence Negre-Zakharov's interests are in the biochemical aspects of aroma volatile and regulation during fruit development and after harvest. BioFruit aroma is generally a complex mixture of a wide range of volatile compounds; however volatile esters often make the major contribution to the aromas of such fruits as apple, pear, banana, strawberry and cantaloupe. These volatile esters arise from the esterification of alcohols in a reaction catalyzed by alcohol acyl-transferase (AAT) enzymes. Although some AATs have been identified and studied in some fruits, there is still very little known about the entire pathways leading to fruit aroma production and the molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of fruit volatile production. Dr. Negre-Zakharov’s research projects focus on investigating the biochemical routes leading to aroma and flavor formation in fruits and vegetables, and how aroma formation is regulated during fruit development and postharvest. The long term goal of this research is to improve the aroma quality of fruits in association with extended shelf life.

James Barbour, Ph.D.
Professor of Entomology
University of Idaho
Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences

Jim Barbour is a Management Specialist conducting research and extension programs focusing on IPM of insects and mites in specialty crops more generally, but with a focus on alfalfa seed, mint, and hops. His work in hops includes projects on pesticide efficacy, management and yield effects of insects and mites, impacts of pest management on beneficial insects, and biological control of insects and mites. Jim has also devoted considerable effort trying to understand the mating biology and pheromone production of the California prionus, a long-horned beetle whose larvae can cause considerable damage to hops in the Pacific Northwest, and how this understanding might be useful for controlling this insect in hops.
Jim has published insect biology and management research conducted with his collaborators in more than 20 book chapters and 50 journal articles and given more than 200 hundred presentations on specialty crop IPM to regional, national and international audiences. In 2013 Jim added administrative duties to his list of responsibilities when he was appointed Superintendent of the Parma Center.