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Environmental Horticulture Graduate Program

Environmental Horticulture Graduate Program

Brooks Parrish / Doctor of Philosophy in Horticultural Sciences

Brooks is a PhD student in the Department of Environmental Horticulture. He graduated from UF with a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science in 2019. Brooks grew up working in on his family’s farm where they grow watermelons. During his undergraduate experience he worked in a micropropagation lab on campus where he assisted in the production of disease eradicated caladiums in vitro. His experiences in the agriculture industry have set him on a path to become a plant breeder. After seeing the impact that new novel cultivars can have on producers, Brooks knew that he wanted to play a part in their development. He graduated with his Master of Science degree in the horticultural sciences department in December 2021. His thesis work included discovering the first triploid caladiums, identifying a new chromosome number in existing cultivars, and evaluating caladium somaclonal variants and their potential use for cultivar development. Brooks is working for Dr. Zhanao Deng at the IFAS GCREC primarily researching lantana.

ADVISER: Dr. Zhanao Deng

Brooks Parrish CV

Environmental Horticulture graduate student, Brooks Parrish

Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GREC)


    • Master of Science in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida, 2021
    • Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science from the University of Florida, 2019
    • International Plant Propagators’ Society Southern Region Charlie Parkerson Student Research Competition, 1st Place
    • Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association Scholarship Recipient
    • CALS Muriel Rumsey Scholarship Recipient
    • American Floral Endowment Scholarship Recipient
    • Southeast Produce Council Scholarship Recipient
    • 2019 Southeast Produce Council STARS Scholar
    • 2019 Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association Scholarship recipient
    • 2018 Branan Family Scholarship recipient

    My PhD research under Dr. Zhanao Deng is centered around producing new sterile lantana cultivars. Lantana camara is a category 1 invasive species here in Florida and spreads rapidly outside the landscape contaminating our native lantana species. My goal is to produce sterile cultivars that don’t produce seed or viable pollen so that they are safe for Florida homeowners. A roadblock that we face is that some lantana posses the ability to form unreduced female gametes that allow them to bypass our sterilization efforts. To assist in achieving my goal I hope to identify the genes responsible for this trait through genome and transcriptome sequencing. Generation of molecular markers will allow for rapid selection of sterile breeding lines and accelerate the lantana breeding cycle.


    Teaching assistant for the Plant Science Capstone course in the spring semester of 2021. I worked with 42 undergraduate students to help them design, conduct, and present original research projects. I also lead class discussions, graded assignments, and offered constructive feedback to students.

    • Watermelon Trial Assistant Intern with Syngenta Seeds 2016-2017