Peggy G. Lemaux, Ph.D.

Cooperative Extension Specialist

Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

University of California, Berkeley


Lemaux received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Michigan Medical School, followed by postdoctoral positions at the Stanford Medical School and the Carnegie Institution of Science at Stanford. After several years at DeKalb Plant Genetics, Lemaux assumed a position as a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC Berkeley.  In this position, Lemaux has responsibility for both research focused on crop improvement and community outreach that covers food, agriculture and modern genetic technologies.


The Lemaux laboratory’s research focuses on use of genetic engineering and genomic technologies to understand and improve cereals, like wheat, barley, rice and sorghum.  Applied projects have included development of faster germinating barley with improved starch characteristics for the brewing industry, a hypoallergenic wheat variety for consumers with wheat allergies, a preharvest sprouting tolerant wheat variety that addresses issues with climate change, and the nutritional enhancement of sorghum for Africa. With funding from ARPA-E DOE, her group participated in an effort to make drop-in hydrocarbon fuels in tobacco. She is currently involved in an NSF-funded project to understand and improve potassium uptake in rice. She is also serving as the lead PI on a 5-year, DOE grant to understand and manipulate the genetics of drought tolerance in sorghum. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy and the American Society of Plant Biologists. She received the Hoagland award from ASPB for outstanding contributions to agriculture and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of In Vitro Biology. She recently served as President of the ~5000-member American Society of Plant Biologists.


Outreach to public and K-14 audiences focuses on issues relating plants, agriculture, food production and the impact of new technologies, like genomics and genetic engineering.  She has written a widely published series in the Annual Review of Plant Biology on the issues associated with genetic engineering of crops. She has also made informational videos, educational displays, K-12 educational activities and curricula, all available on her an award-winning website, She served as a lead PI of the extension and education teams for the national CSREES-sponsored Rice CAP (Coordinated Agricultural Program) and Barley CAP, where her responsibilities included developing educational materials on genomics and marker assisted selection and providing informational materials for a grower page on eXtension. She is currently involved in two USDA-sponsored citrus greening disease efforts aimed at developing outreach materials for citrus growers to inform them about approaches to combat greening disease. Lemaux is also the faculty lead in two student-oriented projects. CLEAR (Communication, Literacy and Education for Agricultural Research) is focused on engaging grad students and postdoc in reaching out to the community to communicate about their science.  She is also the faculty lead for The Millet Project which is engaging growers and the public in reinvigorating interest in  nutrient-rich and environmentally friendly ancient grains, the millets.


Research Areas:
Applied Plant Biology

Current Affiliations
Experience & Education