By Roadtrip Nation

Dennis Gonsalves


My road in life took a while to figure out.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Hawaii, he originally just wanted to find a job.
He was hired as a technician on Kauaʻi, and his boss showed him a virus he suspected was developing on the papaya plants.
With no preparation—aside from one plant pathology class he’d taken in college—he was tasked with identifying the virus.
He checked out books on plant pathology and spent nine months studying the virus; during that time, he got hooked.
He decided curing this virus would become his life’s work; he went back to school to earn his Ph.D. in plant pathology.
As he further researched the virus, it started rapidly spreading and threatening the livelihood of Hawaii’s papaya farmers.
Eventually, he genetically engineered the "Rainbow" papaya to be resistant to this devastating papaya ringspot virus.
Rainbow papayas now make up over 75 percent of Hawaii's papayas; he’s largely credited with saving the industry in the state.
Keep following my journey


Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology

I am a retired plant pathologist that developed the Rainbow, a GMO papaya resistant to viruses.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Helping People

Day to Day

I investigate plant diseases and I specialize in identifying and treating plant viruses.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

Do well in undergraduate study so you can get into graduate school.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Teachers:

"Don't be a test tube scientist."

Challenges I Overcame

Physical Issues
First-Generation College Student

Interviewed By

Setting Course

Setting Course

Science, tech, engineering, arts, and math careers in Hawaii