Dr. Sonet Van Zyl, a researcher at the South African Agricultural Research Council, has joined California State University, Fresno’s Department of Viticulture, bolstering its ability to enhance raisin- and table-grape course offerings and its research program.
Van Zyl began her new assignment with the department in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology after an international search last semester, announced James Kennedy, the department chair and director of the Viticulture and Enology Research Center.
Van Zyl’s research interests include table- and raisin-grape production and marketing, cultivar development and evaluation, grapevine and rootstock breeding for improved quality and pest and disease resistance.
At Fresno State, Van Zyl will be responsible for a rigorous research program and for teaching undergraduate courses in general viticulture, specifically raisin- and table-grape production, with an emphasis on the San Joaquin Valley, said Kennedy.
Van Zyl will begin to work closely with grape growers to address potential research areas.
Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said Van Zyl’s appointment demonstrates the university’s “renewed commitment to table-grape research.”
Glen Goto of the Raisin Bargaining Association said Fresno State “recognizes the significance of our commodity within the San Joaquin Valley grape industry. We are looking forward to working with Van Zyl to educate the next generation and help sustain our existing raisin growers.”
Van Zyl received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stellenbosch University in South Africa in viticulture and genetics and viticulture, respectively. Her doctoral dissertation work was conducted at Stellenbosch University and the University of California at Davis.