Adam Bray

Adam Bray headshot

Adam grew up on a Christmas tree farm in central Georgia, where he established a hands-on approach to work and developed practical problem-solving skills from working alongside his grandfather. In 2009, he graduated from UGA with a BS in Biology and Minor in Biochemistry. After graduation he found his way to Synageva, a biotech startup, where he worked in the QC lab purifying recombinant protein from egg whites.

Adam was recruited and trained by Zach King to manage the rice and switchgrass transformation pipeline in the Parrott Lab. Working in Dr. Parrott’s lab exposed him to the field of Plant Breeding. This phase not only reconnected him with his agricultural roots, but also fueled his intellectual curiosity.

Having found his passion, Adam pursued a Master's degree, identifying soybean lines resistant to kudzu bugs under the mentorship of Dr. Parrott and Dr. Zenglu Li. The IPBGG provided a breadth of training in Plant Breeding and Genetics, valuable hands-on skills, and leadership experience. During his MS Adam interned with the Soybean Ag Traits team at Monsanto, which solidified his interest in industry and expanded his network. The Institute of Plant Breeding and mentorship within put Adam in the driver seat on a path to success.

His academic journey took him to Dr. Chris Topp's Lab at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center for his Ph.D., co-advised by Dr. Sherry Flint-Garcia at University of Missouri. There, he utilized cutting-edge imaging techniques to study genes controlling maize root architecture. Adam made the most of his time learning not just about roots, but also gaining a deeper understanding of maize genetics from Dr. Flint-Garcia. Adam continued to build leadership skills by mentoring NSF REU students each year and participating in the Preparing Tomorrows Leaders in Science program, a partnership between Mizzou and Monsanto. Adam received a USDA-NIFA Pre-doctoral Fellowship, which allowed him to further his PhD research. 

In 2020, Adam started a new chapter at Bayer as the Hard Winter Wheat Breeder for the western U.S. Over the past four years, he managed the release of 24 commercial varieties and spearheaded the introduction of UAV-based high-throughput phenotyping in wheat. As Bayer transitions from varietal to hybrid wheat breeding, Adam is excited to face the challenges ahead thanks to his training in Plant Breeding from UGA and Mizzou. 

Looking back over his journey, Adam is forever grateful for mentors that believed in him and invested their time and energy. Adam’s advice to grad students would be to work hard, seek opportunities, build connections, and have fun! Beyond his professional life, Adam enjoys time outdoors with his wife Lisa and their two boys. Cheers! Go Dawgs!