Hello and thanks for visiting my web page. We do research on means for improving the environmental sustainability of energy, wood, and paper production in trees using genomics (entire DNA) and genetic engineering methods.
I am a University Distinguished Professor housed in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, and have a joint appointment in the interdepartmental Molecular and Cellular Biology Program. I am also the creator and Director of the Tree Biosafety and Genomics Research Cooperative (TBGRC) at OSU, a university-industry consortium conducting research on genetically engineered trees that might be useful in forestry, bioenergy, and horticulture. For 9 years I directed the OSU Program for Outreach in Resource Biotechnology, aimed at promoting public understanding of biotechnology issues.
I earned degrees in biological sciences from Cornell, Yale, and the University of California at Berkeley; published more than 200 scientific papers; given more than 200 invited lectures; and earned more than 17 million dollars in research grants. I served on a number of scientific review panels at the United States National Research Council, National Science Foundation, and Department of Agriculture. I have been fortunate to have been recognized as Leopold Leadership Fellow, Forest Biotechnologist of the Year, and received the Barrington Moore Award from the Society of American Foresters.
My research is focused on genomics and genetic engineering in eucalypts and poplar trees. Some of the focus areas presently are:
- Modification of flowering to reduce environmental and social concerns over gene flow from genetically engineered trees.
- Description of epigengenetic variation in the poplar genome during its growth and development; we are using "NextGen" sequencing of immunoprecipitated or bisulfite treated DNA to characterize changes in genome-wide methylation.
- The use of gibberellin signaling genes for modifying plant growth rate and form.
- The production of new biological plastics in tree leaves, as a possible renewable and carbon-neutral feedstock.
- Improved methods for insertion of genes and regeneration of transgenic plants in woody species.
I also study how government regulations affect the ability to do research and use genetic engineering for public and economic benefit, and am actively involved in public outreach and teaching about crop biotechnology generally. I teach in and coordinate an interdisciplinary on-campus and online course to give students and the public scientifically reliable information about the use of genes and chemicals in agriculture and natural resources.
I mentor high school, undergraduate, and graduate students on the potential of biotechnology to improve productivity and environmental soundness of agriculture and forestry, as well as about its ecological risks, social and legal issues, and ethical complexities. The laboratory usually hires or hosts several student research interns, especially in summer.
When not at work, I am a soccer referee at the high school and competitive club level, play tennis, hike, and run—all for fitness and relaxation. I prefer to walk and run in the many lovely forests and parks in Corvallis and the Oregon Cascade Mountains.