• About Dr. Bob Whitaker
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  • About Dr. Bob Whitaker

    Robert J. Whitaker, Ph.D.

    Chief Scientific Officer, Produce Marketing Association


    Dr. Whitaker received his Ph.D. in Biology from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1982. Upon graduation, Dr. Whitaker joined DNA Plant Technology Corporation (DNAP) where his research focused on the development and use of biotechnology to develop new plant varieties. During his 16-year tenure with DNAP, Dr. Whitaker served as both Vice President for Vegetable Research and Development and Vice President of Product Development, managing the development of products ranging from extended life tomatoes to seedless watermelons and tobacco varieties.

    In 1998, Dr. Whitaker joined NewStar as Vice President of Product Development and Quality where he developed corporate food safety programs in the U.S., Mexico and South America, spearheaded NewStar’s aggressive product development activities, and had operational responsibility for NewStar’s two value-added processing plants. In 2006, Dr. Whitaker became President of MissionStar Processing, where he re-organized the processing venture and streamlined operations. In early 2007, Dr. Whitaker moved back into New Star as Vice President of Innovation and Food Safety.

    In April 2008, Dr. Whitaker became the Chief Science Officer of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). In this role Dr. Whitaker has responsibility for food safety and security, environmental sustainability and technical innovations for the produce supply chain, from field to fork.

    Actively involved in produce association activities, Dr. Whitaker has served as a volunteer leader for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association’s Production & Quality Assurance Council, as chairman of the International Fresh-cut Processors Association (IFPA) Technical Committee, and as Chairman of the Board for IFPA, a role in which he helped guide the 2006 merger of IFPA and United. In 2006, Dr. Whitaker was awarded IFPA’s Technical Achievement Award for his work in food safety and product development. Dr. Whitaker has been intimately involved in the development of the leafy greens GAP Metrics and also serves on both the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Technical Committees. Dr. Whitaker was named to the Executive Advisory Board for the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) in 2007 and has taken on the role of Chairman for the CPS Research and Technology Council (2008) which oversees the solicitation and awarding of funds for research projects focused on produce food safety.