Dr. Juan Arbelaez
Assistant professor- International plant breeding
Dr. Juan Arbelaez is a plant breeder and geneticist who is passionate about reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty around the world. In pursuit of this passion, Juan is focusing on a) developing varieties of spring oat (Avena sativa) and rice (Oryza sativa) with enhanced nutritional quality, b) helping breeders around the world develop and implement cost-effective breeding methods and tools to accelerate breeding for multiple traits including yield and grain quality, and c) developing cover crop oat varieties for the Midwest to help protect life-sustaining natural resources.
Dr. Juan Arbelaez began his career at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia where he worked on developing novel rice germplasm with introgressions from wild rice species to support the global rice community. Juan then went on to do a Ph.D. and a post-doc in Dr. Susan McCouch’s rice genetics lab at Cornell University where he worked on understanding the genetic bases of tolerance to aluminum and iron toxicity, which are critical abiotic stresses affecting rice production in parts of South America and Africa. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Juan was a rice breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), headquartered in the Philippines, where he played a critical role in the development and deployment of a global genomic selection strategy to accelerate rice improvement in irrigated environments across Southeast Asia and West Africa.