1. The Team

Amrita_websiteAmrita Hazra, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, 2015-present

Postdoctoral researcher, Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California Berkeley, 2011 – 2015

M.S., Ph.D. Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University, 2005 – 2010

Amrita Hazra grew up in Pune, India in a home where dinner table discussions were often about chemistry. Her parents are both chemists – her father is an organic chemist and her mother is a plant biochemist, and they regaled her and her brother with stories of exciting experiments and challenging science adventures from their laboratories. Amrita’s graduate and postdoctoral research in vitamin biosynthesis drew her close attention to the nutritional aspect of food. The economic and political influences on agriculture concerns her greatly, as it leads to monoculture farming and limits the variety of food available to consumers. This has greatly shaped her ideas around food justice and sustainable agriculture, and she is excited to be a part of the Millet Project, which will explore millets to diversify agriculture and our diets.

Amrita is also greatly interested in science education and outreach, and democratizing science for all social and economic backgrounds. She has been an instructor for the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Theme Program seminar at UC Berkeley and has actively participated in the Graduate Student School Outreach Program at Cornell University, Expand Your Horizons (EYH) Berkeley, and Dinner with a Scientist Oakland.

PGLemauxPeggy Lemaux, Cooperative Extension Specialist: University of California, Berkeley, California 1991-present.

Chair, Biotechnology Workgroup, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources,  1999-present

Peggy Lemaux’s work focuses on outreach to public and K-14 audiences on issues relating to plants, agriculture, food production and the impact of new technologies, like genomics and genetic engineering. Lemaux has written and edited a set of peer-reviewed fact sheets, an informational video, educational displays and games, an award-winning website,http://ucbiotech.org and K-12 educational activities and curricula. In 2008 and 2009 Lemaux wrote two review articles on issues related to agricultural biotechnology for the Annual Review of Plant Biology. Lemaux served as a lead PI of the extension and education team for the national CSREES-sponsored Rice CAP (Coordinated Agricultural Program) and Barley CAP and currently is serving on the outreach teach for the USDA NIFA-sponsored NuPsyllid project aimed at developing strategies for citrus greening disease.


Patricia1_JewelReasoPatricia Bubner, Postdoctoral researcher, Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California, Berkeley, May 2013 – present

Postdoctoral researcher, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria: 2011-2013

Ph.D., Biotechnology, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria: 2007-2011

M.Sc. Graz University of Technology and Karl Franzens University Graz, Austria (Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, and Nutritional Chemistry): 1999 – 2007; Montclair State University, NJ, USA: Exchange year – Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology 2005 – 2006

Patricia was born and raised in Graz, Austria, a city of 250 000 with easy access to the rural countryside. In her early years, Patricia was exposed to a large variety of grains, greens and fruits through her mother, who was very invested in providing her family with a balanced and healthy nutrition. Patricia also learned from her to maintain a home garden, forage seasonal mushrooms and fruits in local forests, and integrate these healthy practices into her everyday life. Being confronted with a chronic health issue as a grown-up, Patricia realized that regular exercise and a balanced nutrition were key factors in keeping her off prescription drugs. She also started baking her own bread with from-scratch-selfmade sourdough cultures and malt.

Patricia loves to explore new activities and her hobbies are cardio, weight lifting, horses, and yoga. She is also a dedicated “bike to work” promoter. She is a goal-oriented person who loves to share her experiences and to exchange knowledge with others. Her passion for promoting and establishing millets in California stems from her personal belief that a healthy and balanced nutrition can and must be in unison with nature’s needs.



Pedro Gonçalves, Postdoctoral researcher, Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, 2015-present

PhD in Molecular Pathology and Genetics, Abel Salazar Biomedical Sciences Institute of the University of Porto, Portugal, 2009-2014

B.Sc. in Anatomical Pathology, Cytology and Thanatology, School of Allied Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal, 2004-2008

Pedro grew up in Portugal’s countryside, in Arouca, a small village rich in nature and biodiversity. A childhood passion, the importance of reflecting about socio-economical and political issues and the fascinating realm of multiculturalism, has stayed with him until today. In that context, food diversity has became the maximum exponent of world’s plurality and one of the simple pleasures in life for him. Moreover, he believes that a healthy nutrition is essential for the human well-being.

When Pedro is not working on his research in fungal biology nor trying new dishes, he likes to dedicate some time to his hobbies. Traveling is by far what satisfies him the most, and that is surely related to his interest in multiculturalism. He also loves music and to dig into old bands and styles. Pedro also likes cinema, photography and modern art, and as far as sports are concerned, he likes to run, which provides him with the sense of freedom. For Pedro, The Millet Project represents an opportunity to learn, to develop personal skills and to contribute to increase food literacy among the population.


Becky Mackelprang, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley. Aug 2012-present

B.S., Department of Biology, University of Utah, 2010

Becky was born and raised in Spokane, Washington. She loved helping her mother in the garden as a little girl, and as she got older the two spent many evenings experimenting in the kitchen. Becky’s love of food grew from there. As an undergraduate, she planted a small garden and was frustrated by the inundation of her tomatoes each year with aphids and powdery mildew. Additionally, she started thinking more deeply about global food issues, including food insecurity and the departure from healthy home cooking. This helped motivate her to begin working toward her Ph.D. in Plant Biology at Cal, where she studies molecular mechanisms by which plants limit the extent of pathogen growth.

Combining her love of cooking and concern about international food security, she was drawn to working with the great team at The Millet Project. Not only does she love cooking with millet, she recognizes its value as a low-input, drought tolerant crop. As the California drought continues and the effects of climate change become more real, she sees millet as tasty way for the public at large to learn how to think and eat sustainably.


Hailey Zhou, Undergraduate at UC Berkeley, August 2014 – present

B.S., Nutritional Sciences – Dietetics Track, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley, Expected Graduation Date: May 2018

Hailey wants to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, 99% dark chocolate and the ability to travel and find adventure. She loves sports, traveling, and is a BIG foodie. Born and raised in the wonderful city of Shenzhen, China, Hailey embarked on her biggest adventure yet – moving to the U.S. – at the age of 16.

Hailey remembers most dearly the millet porridge that her mother prepared for her as she grew up, claiming it would heal her upset stomach. This childhood and cultural connection prompted Hailey to join the Millet Project team. She is very passionate about not only its uniquely delicious taste profile, immense nutritional benefits, but also its drought-tolerance and other agricultural and environmental advantages. She aspires to learn from and work with the team to promote millet crop agriculture in California.

As a second-year Nutritional Sciences major in the Dietetics track, Hailey is super passionate about clinical nutrition, innovative food R&D, as well as strategy and entrepreneurship. She actively contributes to the project’s social media presence, is forging relationships with businesses, and is working with the team to develop a new millet-based product.

Georggeorge-head-shote Chuck, Research Scientist, Plant Gene Expression Center/ U.C. Berkeley, 2002 – present

PhD in Plant Biology from U.C. Berkeley 1999

George was born in Oakland and raised in the Bay Area with two brothers and a sister who also went to U.C. Berkeley.  His mother, Mable, worked as a janitor in the optometry department and strongly encouraged all her children to get into Berkeley.  George went the extra mile and also got a PhD there before doing a post doc at U.C. San Diego, and then coming back to the Bay Area three years later.  In high school, George got a job at a small biotech company called DNA Plant Technology which got him interested in plants, and set him on the path of using genetics for plant breeding and improvement.  George is currently funded by the NSF to study the evolution of plant architecture in major crop species.  In his spare time you can find him changing diapers for his young son Alexey.


11491587430_.pic_hdEileen Wu, Undergraduate at UC Berkeley

Eileen was born in Hangzhou, China. Hangzhou is a beautiful city with a profound cultural heritage and is delicate and exquisite in every aspect: landscape, architecture, and food. Hangzhou cuisine, unlike dishes from northern China which are heavy in sauces and spices, is mild but flavorful with a focus on fresh ingredients. The food culture of her hometown and family influenced her to work towards promoting sustainable, healthy eating among the young generation.

She came to the U.S. in 2015, and is now a second year student majoring in Nutrition Science, dietetics track. With the goal to raise the public awareness of healthy eating, she joined the millet project team to promote millet growth and usage in California.

Mylet Headshot

Nicholas MyletMBA Candidate, University of California, Berkeley, 2016-present

BA, Tufts University, 2006-2010

Nicholas grew up growing corn and soybeans on his family’s farm in Indiana. He returned to the farm after college, but decided to join an agribusiness-focused firm as a strategy consultant in order to gain awareness of broader challenges in the food system. Working on market entry strategy, growth strategy, and investment due diligence projects, Nicholas enjoyed the opportunity to interact with stakeholders along the food supply chain.

At Cal, Nicholas has enjoyed checking out the many agriculture and food companies in the Bay Area, and he recently worked with an early stage company developing an IoT platform for cattle ranching. Nicholas is excited to grow millets in California and Indiana as a part of the Millet Project, and hopes to explore ways to encourage the farming and consumption of the grains.

17759702_615268615332569_720845619351083050_nElijah Bartolome, Undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley, August 2016 – present

B.A., Intended Computer Science, College of Letters and Science, University of California, Berkeley, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020

Elijah was born in Joplin, Missouri, but has moved and visited many places, any of which he could have called his “childhood home.”

Seeking to learn “a little bit about everything,” he has traveled with his family to the Philippines, where his parents emigrated from, Mexico, Japan, China, United Kingdom, Italy, and France. He has a curiosity for both things pop culture and academic and would sometimes binge browse Wikipedia for articles from modern physics to video games considered the best of all time.

He likes to try things that he never has done before: visit new places, take unfamiliar classes at Berkeley, listen to different genres of music from different eras, and watch old movies such as Battleship Potemkin and the ever quotable Casablanca.

While intending to major in Computer Science, he is excited to work in an unfamiliar subject with the Millet Project, with millet being a grain he has never heard of before joining the Project. Although the work is difficult, he is happy to learn and do research among his great teammates.



Jerry Li, Undergraduate at UC Berkeley, August 2016 – present

Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science (CS), UC-Berkeley, Expected Graduation Date: May 2020

Jerry was born and grew up in a coastal city in Northeast China. He has diverse hobbies, such as music composition, computer programming, and also farming. In fact, he opened up his backyard for farming while in middle school. Continuing for 6 years, Jerry learned how to take care of more than 20 kinds of plants, and developed a great interest in farming.

Jerry is eager to explore and apply his interests while working with The Millet Project. “I would really love to find out ways that I can make this project better with my knowledge of computer science and my experience of farming,” he says, “but the most exciting part for me is to testify how millet can develop its potential as a bountiful crop in California, nourishing people here as it has in my hometown for millenia.”

SONY DSCPelita Orenda Christanto,Undergrad at University of California, Berkeley, August 2014 – Present

Environmental Economics & Policy, B.S., Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2018

Pursuing minor: Food System

Pelita was born and raised in Indonesia for seventeen years. Indonesia is a country of 17,000 islands with the abundance of natural resources, including mineral, agriculture and marine resources. By studying Environmental Economics and Policy at University of California Berkeley, she is learning about how to produce natural-based-resource to gain per-capita income, applying nature-friendly technology and environmental-oriented policy that would no longer create damage in the surroundings, develop a skill to be able to manifest and implement the knowledge using problem-solving approach to overcome natural resources problems.

Her interest in the food system minor has shifted her focus to engage in a real-world food-production-system, especially the millet project. She is very excited to learn about the agriculture system management, supply chain, and especially how to implement what she has been learning in Environmental Economics and Policy to the agricultural project.

Jyoti TanejaJyoti Taneja

Postdoctoral Researcher, Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California Berkeley, California, USA – Aug 2013 to present

Postdoctoral Researcher, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, India – Aug 2009 to Dec 2010

Postdoctoral Researcher, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi, India – Jan 2008 to Apr 2009

Ph.D., Life Sciences, National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi, India – June 2002 to Feb 2008

Jyoti was born and raised in Meerut, an ancient city near Delhi, India. She did her doctoral research at the premier institution NIPGR (New Delhi), whose aim has been research in plant genomics and translation in the development of improved crop varieties.

During her doctoral and postdoctoral research, she worked on different medicinal and crop plants. Jyoti has a keen interest in research for providing safe, healthy, and nutritional food for future generations to come and is an enthusiastic supporter of “food for healthcare”.

She has always been interested in inclusion of millets into the mainstream diet, as these are gluten free cereal grains that are highly nutritious and have exceptional tolerance to drought conditions. The Millet Project (TMP) is something very dear to her heart.

In her spare time, Jyoti loves spending time with her daughter. She adores classical music, traveling and cooking. She finds the world’s diversity — both natural and human-made — to be ever-captivating.

2. Alumni

Gavin Abreu
Ramji Pasricha
Morgan Johnson
Martin Alexander
Brianna Haining
Sarah Hake

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