Charles Leslie earned his B.S. in Zoology from Oregon State University in 1973 and his M.S. degree in Plant Physiology from the University of California – Davis in 1985. He worked in private sector forestry research as a wildlife biologist, entomologist and tissue culture specialist, has 25 years of experience at UC Davis in tissue culture, genetic engineering, and walnut breeding, and is current Director of the UC-Davis Walnut improvement Program. His research includes application of genomics to breeding walnut scion cultivars, enhancing efficiency of in vitro walnut propagation and clonal rootstock production, and developing hybrid walnut rootstocks with resistance to soil-borne disease, pathogens and abiotic stresses. He has published more than 60 journal articles and book chapters on these topics.