Credentials: Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS
Position title: Professor (USDA)
Horticulture Rm. 299
About Dr. Juan Zalapa
Dr. Zalapa started junior college in 1994 in Brownsville, Texas, and later transferred to Texas Tech University (TTU) where in 1998 he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture with a minor in Biology. During his years at TTU, Dr. Zalapa conducted undergraduate research as a Ronald E. McNair and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) fellow. In 1999, he became a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and held the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) fellowship, UW-Madison’s Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF), and National Science Foundation (NSF) funded K-Through-Infinity (KTI) fellowships. He received a doctorate degree in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison in 2005 for his work in genetic mapping and inheritance of yield-related traits in melon (Cucumis melo L.). In 2005, Dr. Zalapa was awarded the NSF minority postdoctoral fellowship to study hybridization between native red elm (Ulmus rubra Mulh.) and exotic, invasive Siberian elm (U. pumila L.) in the departments of Horticulture and Forestry at UW-Madison. In 2009, he joined the Agronomy department at UW-Madison as postdoctoral associate under the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) to study switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) genetics. In October 2010, Dr. Zalapa became a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist and professor at the Horticulture department at UW-Madison. His current research focuses on cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) breeding, genetics, and genomics studies. To date, Dr. Zalapa has over 70 scientific peer-reviewed publications and has trained 3 postdoctoral fellows, 5 PhDs, 1 MS, and over 30 undergraduate students. Recent graduates: M. Ames (Technical Project Manager | Research Scientist – Gene and Cell Therapy Labs), D. Fajardo (Senior Scientist, Lucigen Corp), H. Zhu (Associate professor Horticulture, Henan Agricultural University, China), B. Schlautman (Lead Scientist, Land Institute), G. Covarrubias (Breeding Optimization Lead/Specialist at EiB, CGIAR), J. Bolivar (Tree Fruit Extension Information Technology Transfer Specialist, WSU), Luis-Diaz Garcia, (Lead Scientist, INIFAP, Mexico), Lorraine Rodriguez-Bonilla (Postdoctoral Associate, UW-Madison). He currently mentors four graduate students, a postdoctoral associate, and several other undergraduate researchers. Dr. Zalapa is also interested in increasing public participation in the sciences through science outreach. Dr. Zalapa developed an outreach program that is focused on grade school students and their families to introduce them to agricultural and genetics research. On a personal note, Dr. Zalapa is a born-again Christian, and has three children, Miriam, John, and Benjamin with his wife Leah Zalapa, who is practicing medical doctor a local hospital. Dr. Zalapa’s family enjoy cooking, fishing, practicing judo, watching movies, and attending church events.