I discover novel genes for improving strawberry flavor and disease resistance. I make crosses between strawberry cultivars with different flavors, and generate complete volatile metabolomes for hundreds of fruit. I compare this data with subgenomic SNP-based genotyping (in an auto-allooctoploid!) to find QTL for important flavor and aromas. I use RNAseq to help find causal mutations in two ways: 1) Identifying SNPs within genes in my QTL region, and 2) Identifying co-locating eQTL markers. 

Besides flavors, I do whole fruit transcriptome eQTL analysis and test candidate gene function via RNAi. I'm also in the middle of a cutting-edge  R-gene sequencing project, using octoploid gDNA and RNA libraries  enriched using in-house designed R-gene capture probes and sequences with Pacbio-SMRT.

My four-year GE industry experience (Simplot Plant Sciences) has given me an unusual perspective for a PhD student. The high cultural barriers-to-entry for GE crops discourages many truly valuable projects. In these turbulent times, the scientific community has to accept public outreach as civic and professional duty. I spend a lot of time doing public science communication, including co-founded the AmpliComm science communication effort with 

A selection of my stuff is linked here:

Talking Biotech Podcast (five episodes), "Why its Time We Found Common Ground in Genetic Engineering"
GMO-Answers Q&A
Interview with Food Beast
AgChat Video: Strawberry DNA Isolation!
AmpliComm video: Why Is SciComm Important
AmpliComm video: How to Inform Consumers

I play bass in my all plant-scientist band, Wild Type (fronted by Plantae user Katie Rogers).
Wild Type Instagram:

I also review books for Plantae Bookshelf:

On the hunt for my next science home -- please contact me for career opportunities! 

Research Areas:
Applied Plant Biology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Computational Biology, Genetics, Genomics, Metabolism


Barbey, C. R., Folta, K. M., Whitaker, V. M., Verma, S., & Bai, J. (2016). Rapid volatile metabolomics and genomics in large strawberry populations segregating for aroma. In VIII International Strawberry Symposium 1156 (pp. 695-702).

Pillet, J., Chambers, A. H., Barbey, C., Bao, Z., Plotto, A., Bai, J., ... & Colquhoun, T. A. (2017). Identification of a methyltransferase catalyzing the final step of methyl anthranilate synthesis in cultivated strawberry. BMC plant biology, 17(1), 147.

Barbey, C.R., Folta, K.M. Identifying and Overcoming Challenges to Sustainable Strawberry Agriculture. Achieving Sustainable Cultivation of Temperate Zone Tree Fruits and Berries – Vol 1. Oct 2018

Barbey C.R., Rommens, C.M., PVY Resistance. US. Patent Docket Number: JRSI-001/01US (provisional, filed Jan 2013)

Volunteer Activities

Annual Science Fair Judge, Bishop Lake, Ft. Clark, & Westwood Middle Schools, Gainesville FL

Community Event Organizer and Presenter, free “Food Evolution” film screening in Gainesville, FL. Jul 2017

Live unpaid public education: 

Orlando Master Gardeners Association, Orlando FL Mar 2018

U.S. House Science, Technology and Space Committee: testified on crop GE technology and safety relating to a proposed food labeling bill. June 2014

Talk Science with Me: public science and technology discussion, Gainesville FL Jul 2016

Contributing “Independent Expert” for questions relating to crop genetics and engineering for Nov 2014 – present

GMO Answers Ambassador program Aug 2016 - Present

Public biotechnology discussion, South by Southwest: Interactive, Austin TX Mar 201

Biotech AM/FM radio interview series on crop biotechnology, Jun 2017

Entomological Association of America Joint Annual Meeting, Denver CO Nov 2017 

Dairy Farmers of America Council and Southeast Milk, Inc. board on Biotechnology Acceptance in Agriculture Production, Myrtle Beach SC Oct 2017 

Current Affiliations
Experience & Education