Dr. Helen Booker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan. She is also a Flax Breeder in the Crop Development Centre, developing cultivars for production in Western Canada. Her research program centres on understanding the genetics of traits of economic importance in flax.
Helen Booker was raised in southern Ontario, receiving both a BSc and MSc from the University of Guelph. She then completed a PhD in plant science at the University of the West Indies and a post-doctoral fellowship at Canada’s seed bank, Plant Gene Resources Canada (PGRC), Saskatoon Research Centre (AAFC). She then worked as a Research Associate in Cereal Breeding at the University of Alberta. Her move to the University of Saskatchewan in 2009 brought the opportunity to apply her training in plant breeding and experience with other self-pollinating crop plants (legumes and wheat) to the only university-based flax breeding program in Canada. Dr. Booker has co-developed six flax cultivars with her predecessor Dr. Gordon Rowland as well as a high yielding brown linseed cultivar as the sole plant breeder. Moreover, she coordinates national pre-registration and Saskatchewan provincial variety testing for flax.
Helen Booker has authored or co-authored 25 published peer-reviewed papers, two published cultivar descriptions, and three book chapters. Since 2013, she has worked as an associate editor for the Canadian Journal of Plant Sciences. She was President of the Canadian Society of Agronomy from 2016-18 (and currently holds the position of Past President). She holds the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (SMA) Strategic Research Program (SRP) Chair for the Flax Program and, since her appointment, has served as a director at large on the Board of the Flax Council of Canada (FCC) and as a Scientific Advisor to the SaskFlax Development Commission (SFDC). Moreover, she co-developed and teaches a course on Tropical Crops of the World and coordinates a course on Global Plant Genetic Resources at the University of Saskatchewan.