Dr. Ron Sederoff, Distinguished University Professor, Edwin F. Conger Professor of Forestry & Environmental Resources and Co-Director of the Forest Biotechnology Group at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA has been named 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year by the Institute of Forest Biotechnology (IFB).
Sederoff was selected by his peers within the Forest Biotechnology Partnership, an international group of forestry and biotechnology professionals. Sederoff is the third scientist to win this award. It is given to the forest biotechnologist who best exemplifies responsible uses of forest biotechnology and actively promotes science, dialogue, and stewardship through their work.
Susan McCord, Executive Director of the IFB said, “The candidates that the Forest Biotechnology Partners nominated were world class researchers. Dr. Sederoff has contributed significantly to the field of forest biotechnology this year, and in the past three decades, particularly with regard to training the next generations of Forest Biotechnologists. It is a great legacy.”
According to his nominators, Dr. Sederoff was selected because of his leadership in modern forest biotechnology, his track record of scientific innovation, and his willingness to challenge the status quo with unique perspectives and insight that invite broad engagement in research.
Sederoff is among the top forest biotechnology scientists in the world having worked in forest biotechnology for 28 years. In 1988 he established the Forest Biotechnology Group at NC State University that focused on the genetic basis of quantitative traits in trees, using molecular genetics to advance tree improvement and on the molecular basis of wood formation, particularly lignin biosynthesis. Trees of particular interest have been pines, eucalypts and chestnuts.
Among his recent accomplishments is the development of a systems biology approach to the biosynthesis of lignin in partnership with Dr. Vincent Chiang, also of NC State University, and leading an effort on genomics of the beech family to develop chestnut genomics as a major step toward the restoration of the American chestnut.
“Researchers are already using genomic sciences for applications in human, animal and crop health. It’s time for us to use the technology for environmental health,” according to Sederoff. Fast-growing, high quality trees grown as crops can greatly reduce the pressure on natural forest land. It should be possible to attack deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change through ‘domestication’ of trees, and the modification of trees to help solve environmental problems, including bioenergy.”
Sederoff is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences – one of three Members in all Forest Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Member of the International Academy of Wood Science. In 2004, he received an honorary Doctorate in Forest Science from the Swedish Agricultural University. A native of Montreal Canada, he is married to Heike Winter Sederoff and has three children, Kim, Sarah and Henry.
Adam Costanza, President of the IFB had this to day about the selection of Sederoff as 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year, “Top forest biotechnology researchers consider Dr. Sederoff a leader in this field for good reasons. Ron is one of the fathers of this technology, yet he continues to imagine how it can be put to use to benefit people, the environment, and save threatened trees. The Forest Biotechnology Partners continue to nominate true visionaries as Forest Biotechnologist of the Year. I’m happy that I get to work with Ron and learn from his insight in science, dialogue, and stewardship of forest biotechnology.”
The Forest Biotechnology Partnership will name another Forest Biotechnologist of the Year in 2012. The recipient can be any practitioner in the field regardless of their research affiliations.
More information is available at the Institute of Forest Biotechnology’s website: www.forestbiotech.org