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Dr. Julia L. Kornegay
Professor and Director of Graduate Programs

Dr. Julia L. Kornegay

Contact Information

Department of Horticultural Science
168 Kilgore Hall, Campus Box 7609
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Office Phone: 919.515.1193
Fax: 919.513.3191

General Information

  • Cornell University, PhD. in Plant Breeding and Biometry, 1985
  • NC State University, MS in Plant Pathology, 1979
  • NC State University, BS in Horticultural Science, 1976
  • International School of Nairobi, High School Diploma, Kenya


Dr. Julia Kornegay is a Professor and Director of the Graduate Programs in the Department of Horticultural Science. From 2003-2010 she served as the Head of the Department.

As Director of Graduate Programs (DGP), Dr. Kornegay is responsible for the administration of Department's Graduate Program under the advisement and direction of the Department Head, Graduate Admissions Committee, and the Graduate Faculty. The role of the DGP is to manage the graduate program and its financial resources in support of the teaching, research, and extension functions of the Department. To do so, the Graduate Program needs to attract, recruit, enroll, and graduate highly qualified students.

Dr. Kornegay’s other responsibilities include: 


  • HS 590 Public Garden Administration
  • HS 495 Home Food Production
  • Graduate Student Professional Development Seminar


Breeding and selection of annual and herbaceous perennials with attractive floral characteristic, good plant architecture, enhanced postharvest vase life, adapted to local growing environments, and non-invasive, primarily for cut flower production in the southeast U.S.  


Prior to coming to NC State, Dr. Kornegay served as Director of Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden (1999-2003) and as Director of Research (1997-1999). Fairchild is one of the world’s premier tropical botanical gardens with international horticulture, research, conservation, and educational programs in tropical fruit crops, endangered species conservation, palm biology, and plant systematics. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University and the University of Miami. During her tenure, the Garden added two new outdoor exhibits: the Richard H. Simons Rainforest and the Jewels of the Caribbean habitats, and initiated the new William F. Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion. The Garden also developed the Fairchild Challenge educational program and a graduate studies program with Florida International University.

From 1985 to 1997, Dr. Kornegay worked at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia as Leader of the Bean Program (1993-1997) and senior plant breeder. She was responsible for an international team of scientists based in six countries in Latin America and Africa, working to increase sustainable bean production and incomes for farmers and their communities. She organized five regional research networks in Latin America and Africa and obtained $10 million form international donor agencies to support their activities. She also spearheaded the Seeds of Hope program in 1994 to help Rwanda recover its crop germplasm after the end of the civil war. In 1996, she was recognized by the regional bean program PROFRIZA and the national agricultural research programs of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia for her work in increasing bean production and research capacity in the Andean Region. Over 30 cultivars from her breeding program have been released as varieties in eight countries.

Dr. Kornegay recently chaired the National Research Council of the National Academies committee that wrote the 2010 report Towards Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century. She is also a member of the Working Group for Feed the Future (FtF) Research which serves as an advisory group to the Association for Public Land-grant Universities (APLU) to advance the global FtF initiative.

Dr. Kornegay has published widely in international scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings, and she wrote a featured column in the Garden Views, the quarterly magazine of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. She was interviewed on Martha Stewart Living Television and was the featured scientist on the TV program THE NEW EXPLORERS, Episode: Super Seeds. She also conducted numerous ratio and newspaper interviews, including Voice of America and National Public Radio – All Things Considered.

Dr. Kornegay served as Treasurer for the Society for Economic Botany and was a member of the Executive Committee and Board of the American Public Gardens Association. She has also served on numerous federal grant panels and national and international program reviews. She is married to Alfredo Escobar. Their Raleigh garden was featured on the National Garden Conservancy Open Days tour in 2009 and is a stop for many local and national gardening groups.

Publications (Scholarly Publications Repository)