At the 9th annual meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders that began today in Pine Mountain, Georgia, Seed World’s Marc Zienkiewicz sat down with Borlaug Scholar Jessica Chitwood-Brown to talk about her love of tomato breeding (including using seed that was harvested before she was born), how anyone can understand science, and why she puts both ketchup and mustard on hot dogs — but makes sure they don’t touch one another.

Chitwood-Brown is a PhD candidate at the University of Florida under the direction of Dr. Sam Hutton. Her research seeks to improve genetic resistance in tomato to Fusarium wilt through the use of conventional and molecular breeding strategies with the goal of contributing to more productive tomato cultivars that require less chemical input by growers. She also volunteers on campus and in community events such as school career days and plant breeding clinics for the home gardener.