Professor Gail Taylor, BSc, PhD, FSB

Professor Gail Taylor

Position Title
Department chair in plant sciences at UC Davis and Professor of plant sciences at University of Southampton


Gail Taylor, a professor and chair of the Department of Plant Sciences, specializes in plants, genetics and the environment. Taylor completed her Ph.D. from Lancaster University, UK, and served as both a professor and director of research for Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK, before joining the faculty at UC Davis in 2017.

Research interests:

Plant adaptation to a changing climate, genetics and genomics of leafy salad crops, non-food woody biomass crops for bioenergy, sustainability, ecosystem services, plants and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Brief overview:

Plants can play a critical role as we grapple with the wide scale impacts of a changing climate and rising global population. Plants provide food, feedstocks for energy and a range of other ecosystem services that help to sustain natural capital.

My research focuses on delivering improved plants for multiple purposes, including trees for bioenergy. Fast-growing trees and managed forests will contribute to the emerging bioeconomy for fuel and other high-value products. My lab uses the latest genomic technologies to understand how trees tolerate drought and identify desirable characteristic and genes for future breeding. I also work on leafy salad crops, particularly lettuce and watercress. I work with industry to develop agritech solutions to minimize resource use in these crops now and into the future.

Current projects:

  • Understanding drought tolerance in woody bioenergy systems
  • Sequencing the genome of watercress and expanding this crop in California
  • Enhancing shelf life and reducing waste in lettuce through understanding and influencing the leaf microbiome
  • Characterizing the multigenerational, adaptive responses of plants to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide through genomics