If you savor the sights of caladium, gerbera, and other ornamental plants, you can thank Zhanao Deng for developing better varieties.
In his three-decade career, Deng beams with pride over new types of caladium and gerbera he’s bred that are more resistant to diseases. He’s also happy with his lantana varieties, which are genetically sterilized and don’t produce seeds. They’re also environmentally friendly, attract pollinators and protect native plants.
“The thing I enjoy most is exploring and creating genetic diversity in plants, developing new varieties and seeing them adopted and cultivated by growers and used by consumers,” said Deng, an environmental horticulture professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “I also feel very satisfied at seeing students from my lab find their dream jobs and receive awards.”Learn more about UF/IFAS Plant Geneticist Named Fellow of American Society for Horticultural Science.