Historical Faculty

Ruth Alscher GreneRuth Alscher (Grene)

Ruth came to Boyce Thompson Institute from the Geneva Experiment Station. As a member of the Environmental Biology Program, she developed a program on the biochemical effects of air pollutants on plants. This was her first exposure to applied research, and she was taken aback but also intrigued by the “assignment.”

By 1980, Ruth had chosen to study antioxidant defenses in plants and their relationship to relative resistance to sulfur dioxide of several cultivars of soybeans and peas. When the tidal wave of forest decline washed through, she devoted much of her attention to red spruce and the effects of both ozone and acid rain on trees that were becoming increasingly damaged at high elevations throughout the postindustrialized world. She developed a program, working with a bevy of Cornell undergraduates, that more closely followed her interests. She also collaborated with Bob Amundson on forest decline, and they were able to develop interesting hypotheses concerning decreased cold tolerance of exposed trees and possible underlying mechanisms that might account for that change.

In 1985, Ruth was appointed an adjunct assistant professor of plant biology at Cornell, where she served on several committees and presented guest lectures. Seeking a more permanent position, she applied to Virginia Tech and was hired as an associate professor. Her research combines stress experiments with drought and functional genomics with collaboration from colleagues in Bioinformatics. She is currently a full professor.



Robert G. AmundsonRobert G. Amundson

Bob started at Boyce Thompson Institute in September 1977 as a postdoctoral associate to investigate air pollution stress on photosynthesis, growth, and yields of crops, joining a diverse group of scientists in the Environmental Biology Program with a world-class reputation in plant air pollution research. His first year was in Yonkers and was a rich learning experience seeing how the old institute worked with full-time carpenters, groundskeepers, and extensive support staff.

He lived in the carriage house of an estate across from the institute, which made getting to work easy. An added bonus of the first year in Yonkers was the ability to explore New York City with various colleagues. At the time he was hired, there was a great deal of interest in air pollution and plant life, especially of how two or more pollutants interacted to produce greater or lesser plant damage. Environmental Biology personnel used innovative methodologies to expose potted and field-grown plants to combinations of pollutants. The development of leaf and whole plant enclosures allowed for monitoring rates of carbon dioxide uptake and water loss. These measurements helped to explain the impacts of pollutants on plant growth and yield.

In 1980, he was promoted to research associate and joined others in the program working on a national assessment of ozone and crop loss. The institute was one of five sites chosen to conduct field trials to assess the impacts of ambient ozone on the yields of economically important crops throughout the United States. The results demonstrated that most crops suffered yield losses from ambient levels of ozone throughout the country.

In 1985, as an assistant scientist, he started work on assessing the impacts of acid rain and ozone on forest tree species. These studies entailed extensive field sampling for nutrient contents of forest vegetation from Maine to North Carolina. In addition, tree seedlings were exposed to combinations of ozone and acid rain to determine changes in photosynthesis, foliar nutrient and carbon contents, and growth. At the same time, he became involved in a field program in Kenya to determine the influence of trees on savanna grassland productivity.

After being promoted to associate scientist in 1988, Amundson continued work on the influence of ozone and acid rain on tree growth and physiology. This work was conducted in controlled-environment facilities at the institute as well as at remote sites in New York and Maine. The work in Kenya was completed in 1990. Other studies at the time included work on the influence of ultraviolet B radiation on plant growth.

He left the institute in June 1993 after being the author of more than fifty peer-reviewed publications and four book chapters.



Thomas E. AndersonThomas E. Anderson

Thomas E. Anderson was raised in the Chicago area, but discovered a career in agricultural research and integrated pest management (IPM) as a student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In 1974, he received a BS in biology with a minor in chemistry. He remained at the University of Illinois for his MS in entomology (1977), working as a teaching assistant for Dr. Robert Metcalf’s courses in IPM and toxicology.

Tom then moved to North Carolina State University, and completed a PhD in entomology (1981). In May 1981, he began his work at the institute as assistant entomologist with the Bioregulant Chemicals Program. He managed a research team responsible for cooperative grants with crop protection companies. He also worked closely with the USDA-ARS Insect Pathology Resource Center on the commercial development of entomopathogens and insecticidal compounds of microbial origin. He studied the compatibility of entomopathogens and crop protection chemicals in integrated management systems, and was New York State coordinator for a three-year USDA Pilot Test Program assessing the fungal pathogen, Beauveria bassiana, as a biocontrol agent for Colorado potato beetle.

Tom was also involved in a project with Merck, Inc., conducting initial laboratory testing of a new class of microbial-based insecticides, the avermectins, which are now widely used in many agronomic and specialty crop protection markets. In November 1985, he accepted the position of entomology group leader with BASF Corp., and was responsible for establishing, equipping, and staffing an insecticide R&D facility at the company’s new Agricultural Research Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

During a nineteen-year (and ongoing) career at BASF, Tom has been responsible for the successful development of several insecticides, miticides, and fungicides. He has served as the North American Technical Liaison with BASF’s main laboratory in Germany, regarding new developments and technologies in North American arthropod pest management. In this capacity, Tom developed a cooperative project with Dr. Don Roberts at BTI, screening the fungal entomopathogens collection of the Insect Pathology Resource Center for sources of novel insecticidal chemistries.

Tom has numerous presentations, publications, and patents, including a book, Advances in Insect Rearing for Research and Pest Management, edited with Dr. Norman Leppla (USDA-APHIS). He has served in the Entomological Society of America: Eastern Branch Executive Committee, Member-at-Large (2003–2004); chair, Eastern Branch Registration Committee (2002–2003); National ESA Membership Committee (1998–1999); and Public Information Committee (1985). He has also served as vice president (1989) and president (1990) of the North Carolina Entomological Society, and as president of the Advisory Board of the Center for Integrated Pest Management (A National Science Foundation Center for Technical Excellence at North Carolina State University) (1997–1999).



Alva A. AppAlva A. App

Dr. George McNew invited Alva to become a candidate for the position of associate seed physiologist in 1963. He still recalls the interview luncheon with Dr. McNew, Leonard Weinstein, and Dalton Wang on the porch of the Hudson River Country Club on a beautiful spring day. He joined Dr. Lela Barton’s laboratory in 1964.

Dr. Barton was a widely recognized seed physiologist who was approaching retirement. Alva’s biochemical research on rice was sponsored by the National Science Foundation for several years. Maria Gerosa Bullis, Charles Manahan, and William McCarthy assisted in this research. Boyce Thompson Institute had an informal and pleasant atmosphere, almost like a large family. There was some reorganization in the institute in 1968 and App was appointed as the program director for the Cell Physiology and Virology Program. Other senior members included Robert Bozarth, Robert Granados, Donald Roberts, Dalton Wang, and Alan Wood.

Richard Staples and he explored research opportunities in international agriculture in the early 1970s at the suggestion of Dr. Richard Wellman, then managing director. App was one of the few scientists on staff who had formal training in agronomy and began research on nonsymbiotic nitrogen fixation in rice in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. He was appointed program director of a new program, Nitrogen and Crop Yields, in 1976. Other senior members of that group included Allan Eaglesham, Thomas LaRue, and Aladar Szalay. Dr. Martin Alexander was an adjunct member.

Alva retired from the institute in 1983 and joined the Rockefeller Foundation as director of agricultural science. The foundation’s rice biotechnology program, which began in 1984, was designed in part from the experience gained from Boyce Thompson’s rice research.



Charles J. ArntzenCharles J. Arntzen

Dr. Arntzen was president and CEO of the institute from 1995 to 2000, succeeding Ralph Hardy. His primary research interests were in molecular biology and protein engineering, as well as the utilization of plant biotechnology for enhancement of food quality and value, expression of pharmacologically active products in transgenic plants, and overcoming health and agricultural constraints in the developing world. He was a pioneer in the development of “edible vaccines.”

Prior to coming to Boyce Thompson Institute, Arntzen was the dean and deputy chancellor for agriculture at Texas A&M University, and subsequently served as director of the university’s Plant Biotechnology Program of the Institute of Biosciences and Technology. He has been a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences since 1983 and the National Academy of Sciences of India since 1984. He presently holds the Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Chair in Plant Biology at Arizona State University.



Gary BlissardGary Blissard

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Gary attended Auburn University and received a BS degree in zoology-entomology in 1976. He then served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize, Central America, where his work focused on reducing pesticide use in orange and grapefruit, and biological control through introductions of insect parasites of the Mexican Fruit Fly.

In 1979, Gary entered the University of California, Riverside where he studied microbiology, virology, cell biology, and insect pathology with Dr. Brian Federici and obtained an MS degree. He then entered a PhD program at Texas A&M University, where he studied molecular virology and biochemistry with Dr. Max Summers. In the Summers laboratory, Gary studied the molecular biology of a polydnavirus, a symbiotic virus that is integrated into the genome of a parasitic wasp. Gary’s PhD work focused on viral gene expression in the parasitized host insect. In the Summers lab, Gary also began working with baculoviruses, pathogenic viruses of insects.

In 1987, Gary took a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. George Rohrmann at Oregon State University. There, his studies focused on identification, characterization, and regulation of structural protein genes of baculoviruses.

In 1990, Gary was hired as an assistant scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI). His research program at BTI focused on regulation of baculovirus early gene expression, and his lab characterized regulatory elements important in both transcriptional and translational regulation. Gary’s lab also began to examine the switch between early and late gene transcription, and his work has continued in this area. Gary also initiated a series of studies to examine the functions of a baculovirus envelope protein known as GP64. His group has extensively characterized the function and activity of the GP64 protein, a protein that mediates virus entry into the cell, through interactions with host cell receptors and by membrane fusion.

Recently, his research group found that certain baculoviruses encode a different but functionally analogous protein, called an F protein. Blissard’s studies suggest that baculovirus F protein genes were likely acquired in evolution, from the insect host genome.

At BTI, Gary has been an active member of the institute serving on numerous committees and panels, and he has participated in Cornell campus activities as an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and in the Department of Entomology. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Cornell Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis Training Program. He also serves on the editorial boards of the journals Virology and Journal of Virology, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. He served as chair of the Baculovirus Study Group of the International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses and has been an active member of several scientific societies including the American Society for Virology, the American Society for Microbiology, and the Society for Invertebrate Pathology. He served as an advisor to the American Type Culture Collection and has served on grant review panels for the USDA, the Canadian NSERC, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Research in Blissard’s lab has been supported by competitive grants from the NIH, the New York State Center for Advanced Technology, the Park Foundation, and the USDA. In 2004, Gary was appointed vice president for research at BTI.



Robert F. BozarthRobert F. Bozarth

Robert Bozarth joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1962, moving from the USDA Plant Virology Lab at Beltsville, Maryland, where he worked with Ted Diener on plant viruses. His PhD was from Cornell University.

At BTI, Bob collaborated initially with Clark Porter and Len Weinstein, who were studying the cause for abnormal growth of plants infected with viruses, especially the pea enation virus. Weinstein, Porter, and Bozarth were assigned to the program Exploratory & Special Research headed by G. L. McNew, later headed by R. G. Owens. When Owens left BTI, Bob was transferred to the new program Cell Physiology and Virology, headed by Alva App.

Bob was very productive in his research at BTI and, in 1976, moved to the University of Indiana where he became a Distinguished University Professor.



Tom BrutnellTom Brutnell

Tom Brutnell was an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut where he was first introduced to the fascinating world of transposable elements through a lecture by Dr. Irwin Greenblatt on McClintock’s discovery of those “jumping genes.” Tom’s senior thesis project was on developing molecular tools for cloning genes tagged by maize transposons. He received his BS in biology in 1989 and moved to New Haven to pursue his doctorate degree.

He joined Dr. Stephen Dellaporta’s lab where he studied the genetic and epigenetic regulation of the transposable element Ac. One of his most memorable visits was a day spent with Dr. Barbara McClintock, drinking coffee and talking about the mechanisms of transposition. Tom received his PhD in biology in 1995 and moved to the University of Oxford to work with Dr. Jane Langdale on the mechanisms of cellular differentiation in the maize leaf. It was at Oxford that he became interested in light signaling pathways and how domestication has reshaped these signaling networks.

In 1997, Tom was awarded a David Phillips Fellowship while he was at Oxford enabling him to initiate a large-scale Ac mutagenesis program and to pursue the genetic analysis of light signaling pathways. In 1999, Tom joined the Boyce Thompson Institute, where he has been developing genomics tools to clone and characterize genes in maize. His lab is also dissecting light signal transduction networks in maize with a focus on the primary red/far-red photoreceptor family, the phytochromes. Phytochromes help control a number of agronomically important traits such as flowering time, plant height, plant stature, and tiller number. Thus, studies of light response networks in maize are likely to have a direct impact on improving the performance of this important crop plant.

In collaboration with members of David Stern’s and Klass van Wijk’s laboratories, researchers in the Brutnell lab are using genomics tools such as microrarray analysis to dissect photosynthetic differentiation in maize. These studies will provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms by which the two photosynthetically distinct cell types in maize communicate with one another.

Tom is an adjunct professor in the departments of Plant Biology and Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell. He teaches a graduate-level course in light signaling and has led the development of a campus-wide outreach program that provides summer internships to high school and undergraduate students. This program aims to introduce students to exciting advances in genomics and open their eyes to the possibilities of plant science research.



Edward BuckleyEdward Buckley

Edward “Ted” Buckley graduated from University of Toronto in 1954 with a BSA in botany and a minor in chemistry. He was awarded a Union Carbide graduate scholarship to work on biochemical processes related to photoperiodic flower induction with Professor R. F. Dawson at Columbia University, receiving his MS in 1956 and his PhD in 1959. During his studies at Columbia, Ted used the Union Carbide experimental facilities that were located at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in Yonkers.

After seven years at United Fruit Company’s Central Research Labs in Norwood, Massachusetts, Ted returned to BTI in 1965, having been hired by International Minerals and Chemicals to conduct basic research at BTI’s new molecular biology facilities. Economic reversals at IMC terminated this work in 1968, but Ted stayed on at BTI where he developed his interest in estuarine plant communities and organized and led the first estuarine ecosystem study of the Hudson River. BTI and the Rockefeller Foundation provided major support, as well as Westchester County and the Army Corps of Engineers by court order. The location and movements of more than six hundred species were documented, countering the myth of the “dead” river. This study led to the 1977 publication of An Atlas of the Biologic Resources of the Hudson Estuary, prepared by BTI’s Estuarine Study Group.

In the early 1970s, Ted was project leader for two successful marsh rehabilitations, one at Camp Smith near Peekskill, New York, and the second in a marsh on the tidal Croton River at Harmon, New York. During the 1980s, Ted contracted work with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to reveal uptake by plants of volatile PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the atmosphere originating from discharges into the Hudson River by General Electric’s manufacturing facility. His research demonstrated that all twenty species of plants studied were superb monitors of PCBs in the atmosphere and that the accumulations often exceeded the standards for forage crops.

Ted retired from BTI in 1990, and lives in Ithaca.



Earle J. ButterfieldEarle J. Butterfield

Earle arrived at BTI in 1976 and began work with the Bioregulant Chemicals group under the direction of Dewayne Torgeson. By 1984, he headed a project on agricultural pesticides that tested chemicals for herbicidal and growth regulant activity. They were also interested in developing compounds that would extend the efficacy of herbicides already of established value in agriculture.

Earle left BTI in 1985 when the program was terminated and went to BASF.






Alice C. L. ChurchillAlice C. L. Churchill

The underlying theme of research in the Churchill laboratory was to understand how and why fungi make natural product chemistries called secondary metabolites. Within this framework, Alice’s research group studied fungal plant and insect pathogens that produce biologically active secondary metabolites with predicted roles in virulence, pathogenicity, development, cellular signaling, or chemical self-defense. Her particular interests were in understanding the roles such chemicals play in the interactions between fungi, their hosts, and other organisms in their immediate environments. Because fungi are relatively unexplored genetically and chemically, they represent a vast, diverse resource for the discovery of novel genes and natural products.

Churchill’s research group used molecular tools in combination with analytical chemistry to reveal new fungal pathways and metabolites with potential uses in agriculture or pharmacology.

Churchill came to the institute in 1993 after receiving a BS from University of Maine, Orono (biology), an MS from Oregon State University (plant pathology), and a PhD from Utah State University (biology/molecular biology) with graduate emphases in fungal pathogen genetics and molecular biology. She completed postdoctoral research with Vladimir Macko on fungal toxin synthesis in 1996 and conducted research at the institute for eight years as a Molecular Mycology Center Scientist. During that time, her research group studied the molecular and chemical biology of secondary metabolism in fungi causing disease in oats, sorghum, chestnut trees, bananas, and pest insects.

The Churchill lab was the first worldwide to develop molecular biology methodologies to characterize gene functions in banana pathogens, including Mycosphaerella fijiensis, which causes black Sigatoka, the most destructive disease of bananas worldwide. Furthermore, they demonstrated that fungal toxins previously considered as critical components of the disease process, and used in attempts to select banana cultivars resistant to the fungus, play no detectable role in causing disease symptoms.

The Churchill lab was the first to use RNA-silencing methodologies to create avirulent strains of the black Sigatoka banana pathogen. Furthermore, they characterized secondary metabolite genes and gene clusters not described previously in both plant and insect pathogenic fungi, and identified conditions in which silent metabolic pathways are expressed to make previously unreported natural product chemistries. Colleagues adopted these approaches as a means to identify new compounds from fungi with potential anticancer, antibiotic, or anti-invertebrate activities.

The research of the Churchill lab continues to support the dual goals of understanding the contributions of fungal pathogens to host-parasite interactions and accessing the genomic and chemical resources of fungi for bioprospecting. She is currently at the USDA Federal Nutrition Laboratory at Cornell University.



Candace Whitmer CollmerCandace Whitmer Collmer

Candace Whitmer Collmer earned a BS with honors in biology from Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, a MS in human development and family studies from Cornell University, and worked as a research assistant at Fels Research Institute in Yellow Springs, Ohio, before entering a PhD program in the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University in 1976. She received her PhD degree from that department for work on the H protein of tobacco mosaic virus in 1982, and then worked as a research plant pathologist in the Microbiology and Plant Pathology Laboratory (formerly Plant Virology Lab) of the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Beltsville, Maryland, from 1982 to 1987.

Her work there focused on the various satellite RNAs of cucumber mosaic virus. Following her work at the USDA, she worked as curator of the Plant Virology Collection and then acting head of the Department of Virology at the American Type Culture Collection in Rockville, Maryland, from 1987 to 1988. In the fall of 1988, she joined the new Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory of the Boyce Thompson Institute as a research associate working in the laboratory of Stephen Howell. After two years there, where she worked on projects on turnip crinkle virus and its satellite RNAs, she accepted a position in 1990 as assistant professor of biology at Wells College in Aurora, New York, where she has worked since. In addition, she has been an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University, where she has participated in several courses and a research project, since 1990.

At Wells she has been teaching various courses—including Principles of Biology I, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Human Genetics and DNA Technology (a course for nonmajors), Who Owns Life?—Genes and Ethics (a freshman writing seminar), Ethics of the Human Genome Project (jointly with Wells College Professor of Biology Laura Purdy), and is currently developing a new course on genomics and bioinformatics. In addition, she has developed various research projects for her Wells students over the years—on the I gene of bean and potyvirus resistance (in collaboration with Molly Jahn of the Plant Breeding Department at Cornell), on courtship and mating in Drosophila, and most recently on courtship and mating in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis (in collaboration with Jack Werren of the University of Rochester). Wells students have had their work on projects in all three of these areas selected for presentation at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research over the past twelve years.

Candace Collmer has received various grants to support her research and development from the USDA and NSF. She spent sabbatical leaves working with Andy Maule at the Virus Research Laboratory of the John Innes Institute in Norwich, England, in the laboratory of Jack Werren at the University of Rochester, and recently in the laboratory of Alan Collmer at Cornell on developing new terms to describe pathogenesis for the gene ontology. She received the Excellence in Teaching medal at Wells College in 2002 and is currently serving a five-year term as the Herbert E. Ives Professor of Sciences at Wells College.



Jonathan ComstockJonathan Comstock

Jonathan was at the institute from 1993 to 2004. His research activities were mostly associated with the response of plants to different environments and the solutions they have evolved for dealing with stressful conditions, especially their use of water and how the dynamics of capturing water resources limits their productivity and growth. His studies encompassed both the physiological processes of regulating water fluxes through plant tissues and theoretical studies of how anatomical features of the water transport system have evolved in response to conflicting pressures to minimize both safety and transport capacity.

He sought to understand why some plants use water more efficiently than others, in an effort to identify the genes that control water use and potentially develop crop plants that are more tolerant to drought. Using stable isotope technology and molecular markers, his group found three regions on the chromosomes of both rice and tomato that are critical to determining plant water use efficiency. Comstock also directed the stable isotope facility, which enabled him to analyze stable isotope compositions in leaf, wood, soil, and atmospheric samples to evaluate how different levels of air pollution affects the health of forests in three national parks.



Patricia ConklinPatricia Conklin

Patricia’s time at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) began in September 1992 after she had received a BS from Allegheny College and a PhD in genetics from Cornell. Her doctoral research was in the lab of Maureen Hanson where she studied plant mitochondrial DNA recombination and trans-splicing of the NAD1 gene. When searching for a postdoc, she met with Rob Last for lunch at the Statler. He mentioned an interest in oxidative stress, and they discussed the possibility of isolating Arabidopsis thaliana mutants with altered resistance to oxidative stress. Patricia agreed that this would be an interesting and timely postdoctoral project and obtained a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Cancer Society to begin research in Rob’s lab.

After her three-year postdoc, Patricia was promoted first to research associate and then to senior research associate. In total, she spent eight productive years at BTI (1992–2000). During that time, she published research on the expression of “oxidative stress related” genes in Arabidopsis that had been exposed to ozone, isolated a series of methyl violagen-resistant mutants and (with the help of able undergraduates and graduate rotation students) a series of ascorbic acid-deficient (vtc) mutants. These mutants have been powerful aids in the elucidation and confirmation of the plant ascorbic acid biosynthetic pathway. They have also been used as a tool by several independent researchers (herself included!) to better understand the role of ascorbic acid in plant defense against environmental stresses.

Much of the research that she began at BTI has formed the basis of her current research. In the fall of 2000, she accepted a visiting assistant professor position in the Department of Biological Sciences at SUNY Cortland, just twenty short minutes from BTI. A year later, she accepted a tenure-track position in the same department. A large part of her time during the academic year here at Cortland is spent teaching undergraduate biology majors the intricacies of genetics and molecular genetics, and nonmajors human genetics.

She is also continuing her research (with the help of undergraduate research students) on ascorbic acid in Arabidopsis. Patricia states, “My position at Cortland is very rewarding, and I enjoy it very much. However, I will never forget my time at BTI—the camaraderie of my fellow lab mates in Rob’s lab, the early mornings shared with my bench-mate Elaine, the en masse travel to meetings, the eating of birthday cake out of (un-used!) plastic weigh boats, the feeling of excitement when someone was on the brink of a new discovery.

I feel privileged to have spent time at BTI when I did, a period when BTI had a group of plant biologists working at all different levels. Monday morning seminars were wide-ranging and broadened my understanding of the field of plant biology.”



Denise E. CostichDenise E. Costich

Denise arrived at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in the summer of 1997 to work with Bob Kohut as a research associate on a project in which they grew mustard plants under gradually increasing CO2 concentrations to simulate in a growth chamber what is happening on our planet. She is a plant population biologist with a BS from Cornell University and a PhD from the University of Iowa.

Denise returned to Ithaca fifteen years after graduating from Cornell, excited to be part of a large, vibrant scientific community that includes the scientists of the institute. Working with Bob, and subsequently with Tom Brutnell in his maize genetics lab, allowed her to combine her love of working with whole organisms in both growth chambers and field settings, with an opportunity to learn a new set of molecular biology techniques.

We think of plants as immobile, static organisms that have no escape from the environment in which they have landed. That is true if you focus on an individual plant during its own short life span. However, even though a plant can’t move, its genes can, both in space and time, through successful mating events (pollination and seed dispersal) that ultimately lead to the deployment of a new generation.

We can follow the genes using molecular markers—small fragments of the DNA—or by analyzing variation in DNA sequences—in a number of very different settings, both natural and experimental. For example, we tracked pollen movement and individual reproductive success in experimental populations of the mustard grown under gradually increasing carbon dioxide in growth chambers. In a Pennsylvania forest, we studied the effects of decreasing population size and increasing spatial isolation on the genetic diversity of Table Mountain pine. Working with a diverse set of maize inbreds, we seek to correlate the phenotypic diversity we find in ecologically and physiologically important traits, with the DNA sequence diversity of candidate genes.

As a research associate at Cornell in the Department of Plant Biology, she has now been able to build on the expertise gained during her tenure at BTI and apply it to a molecular systematic study of the sister genus of maize, the grasses of the genus Tripsacum. The extensive genetic tools that have been developed for maize, one of the major model systems for plants, can be directly applied to the phylogenetic study of its sister genus. A more precise understanding of the species relationships in Tripsacum and its relationship to the maize genus, Zea, will provide the foundation for a new era of investigation and utilization of this important group of wild relatives of a crop plant that is critical to the world food supply. In addition, the agronomic potential of Tripsacum is starting to be realized through its increasing use for pasture, forage, and soil erosion control throughout the world.



William L. DovelWilliam L. Dovel

Bill began a career in fisheries research in January 1960 at a time when the importance and potential impact of man on the biological productivity of the turbulent estuarine ecosystem was becoming a major concern. He has devoted his career to the primary goal of understanding the function of fisheries of the estuarine/continental shelf complex. Dovel has had the rare opportunity to develop new fisheries methodology, which made possible new sources of field data, equipping of research vessels, documenting the status of the endangered shortnose sturgeon, and developing multidimensional graphics to depict basic patterns of fish behavior.

He holds a patent for an electric power generating plant water intake concept that could prevent mortalities associated with turbine operations. Bill played a crucial role in the study of the biota of the Hudson River estuary as the fisheries biologist and in the publication of An Atlas of the Biologic Resources of the Hudson Estuary. Whereas conventional fisheries research has historically addressed the parameters of observed data from the field as a result of past productivity, Dovel’s special interest has been to look past the chance events of past productivity to the logic of natural function as an aid to fisheries management for the future comprehension of ecosystem function rather than addressing specific data points, an approach that he feels will better define man-induced impacts to natural fisheries resources.



Allan EagleshamAllan Eaglesham

Allan joined Alva App’s Nitrogen and Crop Yields Program at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in November 1976 from Rothamsted Experimental Station, United Kingdom. For a year he worked with rice, exploring various aspects of associative nitrogen fixation. His chief focus was the construction of a sealed chamber in which oxygen and carbon dioxide levels were maintained approximately at atmospheric levels for exposure of a rice plant to the heavy isotope 15N for several days. The work, which was in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, demonstrated that significant nitrogen fixation may occur in or on the roots of rice.

Late in 1977, Eaglesham moved to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria, on a year’s secondment from BTI to participate in a UN Environment Programme–sponsored project on nitrogen fixation in grain legumes. Nitrogen-15 again was involved, this time as fertilizer, in order that nitrogen budgets could be determined. This work showed that—contrary to conventional wisdom—the positive effects that the soybean has in crop rotations does not result from nitrogen fixation.

Eaglesham’s collaboration with IITA continued with funding from the UN Development Programme of research on the ecology of rhizobia in West African soils. From this grew similar work in collaboration with International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia and with the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas in Syria.

In 1988, he left BTI and took a program manager position with the Italian company EniChem in New Jersey working on maize biotechnology. Two years later, due to a change in corporate philosophy, EniChem closed the New Jersey laboratory and Eaglesham moved to southern Italy to work at Metapontum Agrobios for eighteen months. Thereafter, he returned to BTI for six months as a visiting scientist to work with Ralph Hardy on legume stem nodulation.

After attempts to obtain various permanent positions, he started his own business as editor of scientific manuscripts. He has edited a number of books for the International Atomic Energy Agency, Austria. Currently he is contracted part-time with the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council (NABC)—which is based at BTI—as executive director; his duties include editing the NABC newsletter and proceedings volumes that result from NABC’s annual meetings and annual World Congresses on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing (organized jointly with the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Chemical Society).



Jean FincherJean Fincher

Born and raised in the Chicago area she received a BA from Lake Forest College in biology and chemistry. She attended Duke University for a PhD in biology/microbiology doing some of the first work on the newly isolated MC29 (now myc) virus in chickens. This virus later was the basis of research clarifying the role of virus genomes in cancer.

After moving to Cornell University, she was a research associate in the Department of Food Science. One of her major projects was to understand the role of modified food starches in food systems and nutrition. She joined the Section of Ecology and Systematics and explored the nature of plant responses to different environmental factors. She clarified the role of light levels in the anatomical development of sun and shade leaves. A portion of this work involved developing methods for doing some of the earliest work on applying quantitative techniques to plant anatomy studies.

Jean began her work at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) collaborating with Carl Leopold, working on understanding the role of membrane organization in seed survival. She used modern freeze fracture techniques to study membrane structural changes during hydration. Jean became involved with the Environmental Biology group because of her skill at analyzing microscopic changes in plant leaves induced by environmental factors. In particular she studied the effects of ozone and acid rain air pollutants on trees with Robert Amundson and Ruth Alscher and the active group of environmental scientists at BTI.

As one of the important baseline studies, she established the validity of using pot-grown young trees to compare with mature trees. She compared winter seasonal changes in cell structure in native red spruce in natural settings with cellular changes in potted seedlings. The results were reported at an international conference on acid rain in Glasgow, Scotland, in a session devoted to the issue of mature versus potted seedling comparisons. Jean collaborated on several other BTI studies during her stay.

After leaving BTI at the conclusion of the acid rain projects, Jean changed career direction, and moved to the food industry, starting at Kraft as an expert on the structural characterization of frozen systems and contributing to improvements in Breyers Ice Cream. Currently, she has returned to Chicago and is enjoying city living. She works as a senior food scientist at Newly Weds Foods in Chicago. Newly Weds Foods may be a name you have never heard of, but it provides batter, breading, and spices to many other companies. There is a very good chance you have eaten one of the products she developed.



Herman GershonHerman Gershon

Herman joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1962 as an organic chemist. His previous position had been as head of chemical research for Pfister Chemical Company. His initial assignment was to design new chemicals of potential interest as chemotherapeutics and protectants from radiation damage. He was also interested in the chemistry of naturally occurring organic compounds, including methods for their detection and analysis. He left BTI in 1984 when he joined the faculty of Fordham University.






Jim GiovannoniJim Giovannoni

Jim is a San Francisco native who received a BS in biochemistry at the University of California, Davis in 1985. It was there that he received his introduction to laboratory research in the Department of Plant Pathology under the supervision of Bill Timberlake who told Jim “plants are the future.” Jim received a PhD in molecular and physiological plant biology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990. This was based on research in the area of cell wall metabolism as related to fruit texture in tomato. Jim spent 1990–1992 as a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University in the laboratory of Steve Tanksley working on genetic mapping of fruit ripening loci in tomato.

In October 1992 Jim took a position as assistant professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M where he developed a research program based on analysis of developmental determinants of fruit ripening using molecular genetic and genomics approaches. He was promoted to associate professor in 1997 and appointed director of the Texas A&M Center for Nutrition, Health, and Food Genomics in 1999 and simultaneously began to focus a portion of his research efforts on nutritional modification of crop species.

Jim has been a plant molecular biologist with the USDA-ARS Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory in Ithaca, New York, since late September 2000 and continues to work on tomato with emphases on genetic determinants of ripening and nutrient quality of fruit. Dr. Giovannoni’s laboratory is housed in the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) on the Cornell University campus. He holds the title of Scientist at the BTI and is an adjunct professor in the departments of Plant Biology, Plant Breeding, and Horticultural Sciences at Cornell.

The focus of research in the Giovannoni laboratory is molecular and genetic analysis of fruit ripening and related signal transduction systems with emphasis on aspects of nutritional quality. Research focuses on the regulation of ripening and genetic basis of fruit nutritional quality using tomato as a model system. The Giovannoni laboratory has isolated or participated in the isolation of many of the genes corresponding to important fruit ripening mutations used in shelf-life and quality enhancement and has identified the first transcription factors regulating the ripening process. The lab has shown that two of these genes are widely conserved through evolution and likely regulate ripening in numerous species that develop fleshy fruit.

Researchers in the Giovannoni lab are also characterizing the roles and mechanisms of ethylene and light signal transduction particularly as they relate to fruit maturation. An example of recent results is data suggesting that light signal transduction genes may be useful targets for manipulation of fruit antioxidant nutrient quality. The laboratory is also part of a large NSF-funded tomato genomics consortium including Steve Tanksley of Cornell and Greg Martin and Joyce Van Eck of BTI. This consortium has developed many of the tools used by researchers around the world in genomics analyses of tomato and the Solanaceae family, and the consortium is currently developing many of the components that support the recently initiated international tomato genome sequencing effort.



Robert R. GranadosRobert R. Granados

Bob is a native of El Centro, California, a farming community located in the Imperial Valley of southern California. He obtained his BS degree from the University of California, Davis in 1960 and went on to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he obtained both a MS and PhD degree in entomology in 1962 and 1964, respectively. Bob joined the faculty of the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in Yonkers, New York, in 1964 and remained at the institute until he retired on December 31, 2002.

His research career focused on the in vitro biology of insect cells and microbial control of insect pests. He published more than 135 research papers, and co-edited three books in baculovirology and insect cell culture. He holds more than forty worldwide patents for his discoveries of insect virus pathogenicity genes and novel insect cell lines. His pioneering research in insect cell culture resulted in the development of novel cell lines that proved exceptional as biotechnological tools for high expression of recombinant proteins useful in agriculture and medicine. This patented technology has been recognized worldwide and has been licensed to several companies.

Other work involved the discovery of novel insect virus genes that have been patented and used to develop recombinant viruses with enhanced insect pesticidal activity, or have been engineered to make insect tolerant plants. Bob also served the institute as director of the Plant Protection Program for twenty years. He received numerous honors during his career including fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Novartis National Recognition Award in Entomology, fellow of the Academy of Microbiology, fellow of the Society for In Vitro Biology, fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and president of the Society of Invertebrate Pathology. Bob was appointed to the Charles E. Palm Scientist Endowed Chair of BTI in 1992.

He holds a position as adjunct professor of entomology at Cornell University. He is currently consulting with the institute as a biotechnology licensing and marketing associate in the Intellectual Property office.

Bob and his wife Johanna reside in Ithaca, New York.



Ann E. HajekAnn E. Hajek

Ann Hajek was born in San Francisco in 1952. She was second-generation American, her grandparents immigrating from Czechoslovakia and Denmark. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area except for 1.5 years in South Africa in 1965–1966. Ann attended University of California, Davis for 2.5 years, and while at Bodega Bay Marine Lab for six months, she discovered her love of invertebrates. She transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where her interests switched from marine invertebrates to insects. After her BS, Ann worked in entomology, wrote for an environmental consultant, and traveled, and then went back for her master’s and doctorate at the Division of Biological Control, University of California, Berkeley.

Ann met her husband Jim Liebherr while they were graduate students working on their doctoral degrees in the Entomology Department at Berkeley. Jim finished first and was hired on the faculty in the Department of Entomology at Cornell. Ann finished her PhD in 1994, married Jim in California, and then moved to Ithaca. Ann was hired as a postdoc by Dick Soper, a USDA, ARS scientist working on the fourth floor at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), to organize and analyze data from a five-state project using the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana against Colorado potato beetle—a project Dick and Don Roberts had undertaken together.

Within the first month, Ann was writing a grant proposal for funding to work on a fungal pathogen of gypsy moth, a species that serendipitously turned out to be a major focus of research for her career. That was the start of ten very productive years at BTI for Ann, during which time she also had two children. The first five years in BTI, Ann was a USDA, ARS employee but, by the end, Ann was writing grant proposals with Alan Renwick, Don Roberts, and Carl Leopold, so when the ARS group moved out of BTI because BTI wanted to expand, Ann stayed at BTI as a senior research associate. Ann supported herself and her program on soft money for another five years. During this time, the gypsy moth fungus, the major focus of Ann’s research program, was receiving national media attention, and Ralph Hardy and Don Roberts were both very supportive of her research program.

However, Ann wanted a permanent job so, in 1994, she applied for a professorial position in invertebrate pathology at Cornell. After an international search, she was offered the position and she began work in Comstock Hall, only 0.6 mi west of BTI, in September 1994. BTI was kind enough to allow Ann’s program to keep using her BTI space for the next nine months while renovations were completed and new equipment was purchased. While at Cornell, Ann’s research has focused principally on insect pathogenic fungi, with major projects on gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle, including work from modeling and epizootiology to immune response and population genetics.

At the time this biography is being written, Ann has been a professor for ten years, receiving tenure in 2000, which is also the year that she spent six months in Copenhagen on a very productive sabbatical. Ann was very proud to receive the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2004.



Ralph HardyRalph Hardy

Ralph Hardy was the institute’s fifth managing director/president. In fact, it was he who had the title changed to “president and CEO.” His tenure ran from 1986 to 1995, and he currently serves on its Board of Directors. Hardy received his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1960. He then spent three years as an assistant professor at the University of Guelph where he taught Instrumental Methods of Biochemistry. He joined the DuPont Company in 1963 and remained there until 1984, where he rose from research biochemist to supervisor to associate director to director of Life Sciences. He led DuPont’s efforts to diversify from a chemical company to one with a life sciences direction. His research at DuPont was mainly in the area of biological nitrogen fixation.

When he left DuPont, Dr. Hardy went to Biotechnica International (BTI2!) for two years as president. In 1984, he became an adjunct professor at Cornell University in plant science, but remained on Biotechnica’s Board of Directors until 1989. In September 1986, he became the president and CEO of the institute. Among his accomplishments he cites his firm establishment of molecular biology, hiring of David Stern, and leadership in helping Boyce Thompson Institute to be competitive in the rarified funding atmosphere of recent years. He also helped establish a more disciplined way of using the endowment (setting a 6 percent draw based on the trailing twelve quarters), led the institute through a lawsuit alleging contamination of a Yonkers site, and began the first round of early retirements.

Hardy was also the cofounder of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council in 1989. Today that organization has forty not-for-profit members in the United States and Canada, bringing together senior management of the organizations at meetings on timely topics of biotechnology for intensive discussion. Hardy has served on many National Research Council boards over the years, as well as on the Basic Energy Science Advisory Committee of the Department of Energy and the Alternative Agricultural Research and Commercialization Committee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the latter dealing with venture capital investments).



Stephen H. HowellStephen H. Howell

Steve Howell is presently director of the Plant Science Institute and professor of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Howell received his bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, in 1963 and his doctoral degree from the Johns Hopkins University in 1967. From 1967 until 1971 he was a NIH postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Herbert Stern at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Howell joined the biology faculty at UCSD in 1971 and rose through the ranks from assistant to full professor.

In 1988, Howell was recruited to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) by President Ralph Hardy as the first Boyce Schulze Downey Scientist. Howell started the Plant Molecular Biology Program at BTI and served as its first director. In 1997, under President Charles Arntzen, Howell became BTI’s vice president for research. In 2001, Howell returned to his home state of Iowa to direct the Plant Sciences Institute. In 1980, Howell and his co-workers were the first to introduce biologically active recombinant DNA into plants (cauliflower mosaic virus or CaMV DNA). In 1982, his laboratory identified the CaMV 35S promoter (large RNA promoter) that is now used in most transgenic crops planted worldwide. In 1986, Howell headed up a team that introduced the firefly luciferase gene into plants to create “glowing plants” allowing scientists to observe patterns of gene expression.

While at BTI, Howell became editor-in-chief of the journal Plant Molecular Biology and authored the book Molecular Genetics of Plant Development (Cambridge University Press). Howell recalls times at UCSD, when he and his wife Liz were invited to the home of his mentor Herb Stern. On occasion, they would arrive when his son, David, was finishing up his cello lessons. They concluded that David might have a better career in plant biology than in playing the cello. It appears that they were right! Steve and Liz also remember the warmth and kindness of their friends and colleagues at BTI. The Howells cannot forget an occasion soon after they arrived in Ithaca when they were invited to a party at the home of Sylvia and Len Weinstein. The Howells, in their usual manner, got the dates mixed up and knocked on the Weinstein’s door on the night after the party. Sylvia and Len, without batting an eye, invited the Howells in and served them up a feast of party leftovers. What good sports and what good friends! Such are our memories of BTI.



Patrick HughesPatrick Hughes

Patrick Hughes joined BTI in 1970 as an insect physiologist in the institute’s Forest Biology Program. His work in the Grass Valley, California, lab focused on bioassays for pheromones of western bark beetles and the physiological mechanisms involved in pheromone biosynthesis by these beetles. He later extended his studies to include southern pine beetles at the institute’s lab in Sour Lake, Texas. As a member of the highly successful team led by Pierre Vité, he played a key role in the development of methods for controlling destructive bark beetles.

After the Forest Biology Program was terminated and the institute moved from Yonkers to Ithaca, Hughes embarked on several projects that dealt with plant-insect interactions and biological control methodology. This work included pioneering studies on the effect of air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, on the susceptibility of plant to insect attack. His keen interest in biological control led Hughes to several collaborative studies to examine the effectiveness of viruses in controlling insect pests. This work led to the development of new approaches to the evaluation of viruses as control agents and to novel methods for the necessary mass rearing of insects.

His system for mass rearing of moth larvae and production of viruses was patented. As an extension of this work, Hughes finally embarked on a system for culturing insect stem cells for use in a variety of basic research applications.



Jay JacobsonJay Jacobson

During the 1960s and 1970s, science began to recognize that the most serious and widespread effects of air pollutants on vegetation were not from point sources of pollution but from air and cloud masses that produced photochemical smog and acidic precipitation. Consequently, Dr. Jacobson shifted his research from a focus on effects of fluorides and sulfur dioxide on vegetation and on analytical methods for the measurement of fluorides in vegetation to the study of plant response to ozone and the sulfuric and nitric acids in rain, primary plant-damaging components of photochemical smog, and acidic precipitation, respectively.

As recognition increased of the important interaction between pollutants and environmental conditions, his research also shifted from the use of indoor plant exposures in controlled environment chambers to field exposures using open-air plots to expose crops or tree seedlings to controlled concentrations of pollutants and, finally, to large outdoor chambers so whole trees could be exposed to controlled amounts and concentrations of acidic precipitation. Three graduate students worked with Jacobson on master’s or PhD degrees at Cornell University: Gary Keever, Debbie van Ryn, and Sylvia L’Hirondelle. Two postdoctoral students, John Troiano and Ariena van Bruggen, also worked with Jacobson on research relating to the influence of acidic rain on plant response to pesticides.

Jay published numerous articles in scientific journals with these students and other scientists on methods for the analysis of fluorides in vegetation, the combined influence of ozone and sulfur dioxide on crop plants, plants as indicators of pollution, the effects of sulfuric and nitric acids in rain on red spruce, and the use of scientific information in the development of public policies for the control of air pollution.

Jacobson filled a Professional Term Appointment as Plant Ecologist with the Division of Biomedical and Environmental Research at the Department of Energy Headquarters in Germantown, Maryland, during 1977 and 1978. He had academic appointments as adjunct associate professor in the graduate faculty of Cornell University through the Department of Natural Resources and the Fields of Environmental Quality and Environmental Toxicology. He was a statutory member of the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a member of competitive grants panels for the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture, and a member of several professional societies. He helped organize and facilitate scientific meetings and gave lectures in the departments of Agronomy, Biological Sciences, Natural Resources, and Plant Pathology at Cornell University.

He retired at the end of 1996 as Plant Physiologist Emeritus after working at the Boyce Thompson Institute for thirty-five years.



Daniel KlessigDaniel Klessig

Daniel Klessig earned his BS degree in biochemistry (1971) at the University of Wisconsin, an Honours BSc in molecular biology (1973) at the University of Edinburgh as a Marshall Scholar, and a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University (1978), where he studied with James D. Watson. After a year of postdocing with Joseph Sambrook, he became a staff scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (1979) before joining the faculty of the University of Utah (1980). From 1985 until 2000 he was professor of molecular biology at Rutgers University and associate director of the Waksman Institute.

In 2000 he joined the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, where he served as president and CEO until 2004, before he returned to full-time research as a senior scientist. Dr. Klessig’s work includes more than 175 publications and encompasses both animal and plant sciences. His early work provided some of the first evidence for split genes and led him to propose in 1977 that mRNAs in animals are produced by a process of RNA splicing (intramolecular ligation).

While continuing to study human adenoviruses until 1996, he initiated a research program in plant molecular biology in the mid-1980s to understand how plants protect themselves against microbial pathogens. Over the past two decades he and his research team have attempted to identify components in the pathways that enable a plant to recognize that it is being attacked and then rapidly mount defenses against the invader. Their efforts resulted in the identification of two critical defense signaling hormones in plants—salicylic acid (SA) and nitric oxide (NO). Interestingly, both SA and NO also play roles in human health. Derivatives of SA, including aspirin (acetyl SA), have been used by humans for thousands of years to treat illness and suffering.

In contrast, not until the 1990s was it discovered that NO is a potent endogenous signaling hormone in humans, where it plays critical roles in inflammatory and immune responses, neural transmission, and muscle physiology. Dr. Klessig’s work demonstrated that several critical players of animal NO signaling are also operative in plants during their response to pathogen assault. These include the enzymes guanylate cyclase, aconitase, and MAP kinases, and the second messengers cGMP, cADP ribose, and Ca+2. His group has also identified potential SA effector proteins including the two major hydrogen peroxide scavenging enzymes (catalase and ascorbate peroxidase), carbonic anhydrase, and two critical proteins required for development of systemic acquired resistance, which is a form of plant innate immunity. These two proteins are NPR1 and SABP2, an SA-binding esterase that converts biologically inactive methyl salicylate to active SA.

In sum, his studies on SA- and NO-mediated signaling in plant disease resistance provides some of the strongest evidence that plants and animals, including humans, share an ancient immune system. Thus, his discoveries about the molecular mechanisms of disease resistance in plants may impact human as well as plant health.



Robert KohutRobert Kohut

Bob received his PhD in 1975 at Penn State University working with Dr. F. A. Wood assessing anatomical responses and foliar injury on bean from the interactive effects of ozone and PAN, two photochemical air pollutants. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota conducting field research on the effects of ozone on soybean, and assessing the impacts of ozone on native species of plants at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. In 1977 he joined ERT, an environmental consulting firm in Colorado, where he assessed air pollution impacts on plants at sites throughout the United States and wrote air-quality analyses for environmental impact statements. He joined the institute in 1980, and has conducted field research assessing the responses of plants to changes in air quality.

The National Crop Loss Assessment Network project assessed the effects of ozone on major agricultural crops of the northeast. The subsequent Responses of Plants to Interacting Stress project examined the impacts of ozone and acidic deposition on the growth, physiology, and nutrition of red spruce and sugar maple. He conducted two research projects at remote locations in the field: an assessment of the effects of oxides of nitrogen on tundra vegetation at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and a project to identify ozone-sensitive species and assess the impacts of ozone on plants at Acadia National Park in Maine.

He served on the institute’s management staff as the director of operations from 1991 to 1996. He was appointed to the position by President Ralph Hardy and was responsible for personnel policies, managing the service groups, and overseeing daily operations of the institute. During this period, he dedicated 70 percent of his time to management. After Charles Arntzen became president in 1996, he resigned his administrative responsibilities and returned to research full time. His recent research examined the effects of escalating levels of carbon dioxide on the physiology and population genetics of plants, and assessed the genetic diversity of fragmented populations of Table Mountain pine in Pennsylvania.

His current projects for the National Park Service are an assessment of the risk of ozone injury to plants in 270 national parks, and the development of a handbook for the assessment of foliar ozone injury on plants in the field. He retired in 2005.



William LangridgeWilliam Langridge

Bill Langridge obtained his doctoral degree in biological chemistry at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1973, where he isolated and characterized a novel mitochondrial glutamic acid dehydrogenase essential for differentiation of the unicellular amoeba (Dictyostelium discoidium) into a multicellular organism. During his postdoctoral studies at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he used restriction endonucleases to map the insect pox virus and baculovirus (granulosis virus) genomes and identified poxvirus and baculovirus early and late proteins synthesized during virus multiplication in insect cells and in vivo.

In 1983, as assistant scientist at BTI, Dr. Langridge pioneered the development of electroporation as a method for DNA transfer into plant cells and, with plant promoter-luciferase fusion genes, studied changes in endogenous auxin levels on promoter activation in transgenic plants. Following his transfer in 1987 to the position of associate professor in the Plant Biotechnology Centre at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, he pioneered the application of bacterial luciferase genes as markers for analysis of auxin stimulation of gene expression during potato and tomato development.

He moved from Edmonton to occupy the position of professor in the Center for Molecular Biology and Gene Therapy in the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Southern California in 1993, where he currently leads a research group focused on the development of cytoplasmically replicating viruses in combination with recombinant plants as vaccines for mucosal immunization against infectious and autoimmune diseases.



Thomas LaRueThomas LaRue

Tom, a member of Boyce Thompson Institute’s Plant Production Program, came to the institute in 1978 from the National Research Council of Canada. Tom produced mutants of pea plants deficient in symbiotic nitrogen fixation that are a major resource for identification of the plant genes needed for biological atmospheric nitrogen fixation by cereal plants.

Tom retired from the institute in 1996 and spends his time traveling the globe.





Rob LastRob Last

Rob Last joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) as an assistant scientist during the summer of 1989 following a postdoc with Gerry Fink at Whitehead Institute. His training had been in organic chemistry as well as yeast and Arabidopsis genetics and molecular biology, which coalesced to create an interest in biochemical genetics. His postdoctoral work began an interest in amino acid biosynthesis in plants that continues to this day. It also made him a convert to using Arabidopsis to study complex biological processes. His belief in this weedy plant has been rewarded, as it becomes an increasingly powerful experimental system.

At BTI the laboratory group continued work on the tryptophan biosynthetic pathway and its regulation. These studies provided a natural transition into the study of the regulation and function of plant secondary metabolites. Members of the group became fascinated by how regulation of “primary” metabolic pathways (such as those for aromatic amino acids) that provide precursors to secondary metabolism (such as phytoalexins and flavonoids) is coordinated with the downstream pathways. They also became increasingly interested in how plants use these biochemical pathways to adapt to environmental stress. For example, they took advantage of mutants defective in aromatic secondary metabolism to test the relative importance of various proposed UVB sunscreens. Teamed up with members of the BTI Environmental Biology Program they searched for biochemical processes important in oxidative stress protection. These were very satisfying studies that lead to identification of mutants that are defective in vitamin C biosynthesis, and these in turn played an important role in defining the ascorbate biosynthetic pathway in plants.

Rob left BTI in 1998 as a scientist to become a founding science director at Cereon Genomics LLC in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a terrific group used model organisms to build a robust gene discovery pipeline for crop improvement. After four years the industry was in decline and Cereon was reabsorbed into parent company Monsanto. The Last family then ventured to Jena, Germany, for five months where Rob worked in the department of former Last Lab Visiting Scientist and current Max Planck Director Tom Mitchell-Olds. It was great watching Noah (then 8.5 years old) and Maura (4.5 years) respond to and flourish living abroad (oh, and Jill had lots of fun, too).

After repatriation, he started a 1.5-year stint as a program director at NSF, where he worked as part of the Plant Genome Research, Arabidopsis 2010, and Microbial Genome Sequencing Programs. In September 2004 Rob started as professor in the Biochemistry and Plant Biology departments at Michigan State University. He has been fortunate to participate in science in many capacities and roles.

While at BTI, he received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and served on an NIH Study Section for four years. He also served as monitoring editor at Plant Physiology, and chaired a Gordon Conference and NATO Advance Study Institute. The enjoyment of service to the scientific community instilled while at BTI continued through Cereon and NSF days: Rob is an associate editor at Plant Physiology, member of the editorial board of Current Opinions in Plant Biology, and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Keystone Symposia.



John LaurenceJohn Laurence

John joined the institute in Yonkers in the fall of 1976 and led investigations of the effects of air pollution on plant disease development and epidemiology for twenty years. Working with Bob Kohut, John had the lead for the Lake Erie Generation Study (“the grape project”) and the Response of Plants to Interacting Stresses. He also served on the research teams for other Forest Response Program projects, the Prudhoe Bay Oilfield Project, the National Crop Loss Assessment Network, and the Fluoride Project. In the 1990s, he worked closely with the Plant Modeling team in the development and application of the TREGRO model.

In 1989, when Len Weinstein became the director of Cornell’s Ecosystem Research Center, John became associate program director of Environmental Biology. In 1991, with Len’s “retirement,” John became program director and served in that capacity until the program system was eliminated. After relocating to Ithaca and Cornell, Laurence became an adjunct faculty member in Plant Pathology with appointments to the graduate fields of Plant Pathology, Environmental Toxicology, and Natural Resources. Over the years, he taught a number of graduate seminars, freshman composition in Cornell’s John S. Knight Writing Program, and wilderness canoeing for Outward Bound. He was major professor for Katy (Reynolds) Stevenson, Henning Rusch, Mari Reeves, Sung-Chul Yun, and Peter Woodbury. Laurence spent the final three years of his institute employment on an assignment with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Western Ecology Division of the National Health and Environmental Research Laboratory where he led a program to simulate the effects of air pollution on forests.

John joined the USDA Forest Service in 2002 where he manages the Ecosystem Processes Program at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon. John earned a BS in forest science at the Pennsylvania State University and an MS and PhD in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota. His personal interests include travel, gardening, and photographing movie marquees with his wife, Nancy Flynn.



Carl LeopoldCarl Leopold

Carl came to the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1977, from a position as dean of the Graduate College, Lincoln, Nebraska. His research since that time has been focused on plant growth responses to environmental signals, the physiology and longevity of seeds, and anhydrous biology. He is a fellow in the American Association for Advancement of Science, and has served terms as president of the American Society of Plant Physiologists, International Plant Growth Substances Association, and American Society for Gravitational Science. He has served on panels for the Natural Research Council (Agriculture and Renewable Resources, and Space Biology and Medicine). He organized international conferences for the Rockefeller Foundation (anhydrous biology), NASA (space biology), and FASEB (gravity and space biology).

He has published three books (Plant Growth and Development [1975], Membranes, Metabolism and Dry Organisms [1986], and Senescence and Aging in Plants [1988]). Honors include the Charles Reid Barnes Award from the ASPP (1994), an honorary Doctor of Agriculture from Purdue University (1998), and a gold medal (Academico de Honore) from Spain (2000). He was made emeritus at BTI in 1990.

Carl has had a longtime involvement with environmental issues. He was founding president of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. He is chairman of the Tropical Forestry Initiative. For the past decade he has been doing research on restoration of wet tropical forests in Costa Rica. He is chairman of the Commemorative Nature Preserves of New York, and president and chairman of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, which has identified its mission as environmental ethics.

Since 2000, his work on attempting the restoration of tropical rainforest in Costa Rica has been supported by the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to his books and research papers on plant physiology, he has been publishing research papers on the progress that he has been making in that restoration work. The effort at restoration began in 1993, and he published two papers on the early progress in getting tree cover. He has been very active in politics ever since George Bush has been president of our nation, and he has been considering suicide ever since the catastrophic re-election of Mr. Bush in November 2004.



Lawrence E. LimpelLawrence E. Limpel

Larry came to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1957 when he joined a group headed by Paul Schuldt. The group, sponsored by the Diamond Shamrock Company, was searching for new insecticides, nematocides, and fungicides. He became head of the group in 1962 when Paul took a management position at the Diamond Alkali Company in Ohio at the end of 1961.

Two notable compounds developed by the program were Dacthal, a preemergent herbicide, and Daconil, a foliar protectant fungicide. Larry left BTI in 1976 when he was transferred to the home offices of Diamond Shamrock at Painesville, Ohio, a transfer that was part of the reorganization of BTI as it prepared to move to Ithaca.



Vlado MackoVlado Macko

Vlado Macko joined the staff in 1969. He and his colleagues discovered the chemical nature of host specific toxins including victorin, HS toxin, and peritoxin. The work on plant disease models in which toxins play a central role led to the discovery of protectants and latent toxins and to the finding of victorin binding protein and its location in mitochondria and guard cells. He also characterized the chemical nature of self-inhibitors of spore germination in plant pathogenic fungi. Macko received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Senior U.S. Scientist Award.






David C. MacLeanDavid C. MacLean

Dave, as a newly minted PhD from Michigan State University, arrived at Boyce Thompson Institute in Yonkers in May 1965. He was associated with the Plant Chemistry group, which soon thereafter became the Environmental Biology Program. His research focused primarily on the effects of airborne fluoride on vegetation, and for about fifteen years he was the leader of the Fluoride Project. During the five years prior to Dave’s retirement in 1996, he headed a comprehensive EPA-supported study to assess the impact of ozone on photosynthesis and respiratory metabolism in mature sugar maple trees.




Richard H. MandlRichard H. Mandl

Dick Mandl came to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1952, not as a scientist but as a “lab boy,” right out of high school. He worked for the Borden project until it left the institute but he continued to work for its former director, Dr. Richard Block, no longer as a “lab boy” but as a research assistant. He then began using his natural talents for developing instrumental methods, the first being an automated method to separate and quantify iodoamino acids in biological samples.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Block and his wife were killed in an airplane crash in the Andes so Dick joined the Environmental Biology Program, which was in its infancy. He became the program’s “go to” person for instrumental and analytical problems. One was a desperate need for a more rapid method of analyzing biological materials for fluoride content. Dick went to work on the problem and, by 1962, he had devised an automated method that raised the analytical capacity from a maximum of thirty samples to a potential of 160 samples per day. It is a standard method used throughout the world more than forty years later.

Dick also developed a dual paper taper sampler to automatically collect and analyze atmospheric samples for fluorides, and to separate the gaseous fraction (the toxic material) from the particle fraction (nontoxic material). It is still used in several states in the United States. In 1968, he designed, tested, and built the first suitable chambers for studying effects of air pollutants in the field. These open-top chambers are standard in air pollution studies worldwide.

In the 1980s, in preparation for a large study on grapes in a vineyard in western New York State, there was a need for chambers more than five times larger than existing ones, but they had to be configured so that they would keep out the ambient polluted air. He made several designs, had models built, and constructed a wind tunnel at BTI, where he tested them until he had two satisfactory designs. His research projects included investigations on plant histones and the effects of pollutant combinations on crop plants.

He died in 2004.



Gregory MartinGregory Martin

Martin obtained a master’s degree in plant breeding (1984) and a PhD in genetics (1989) from Michigan State University. For his master’s degree, he conducted research with Dr. M. W. Adams on the genetic mechanisms and cultural practices that generate and maintain genetic diversity of bean landraces in east Africa. He traveled widely in east Africa and during this time, witnessed the effects of a disease outbreak on field beans. The outbreak significantly reduced the bean harvest that year and, because this crop was a principal source of protein, it further exacerbated the malnutrition of the subsistence farmers and their families. His research interests evolved from this experience, and he has focused his career on understanding the molecular basis of plant disease resistance and susceptibility in the hope this knowledge eventually will be used to develop new strategies to reduce the impact of plant diseases, especially in developing countries.

For his PhD, Martin performed research with Dr. B. Chelm on the interaction of soybean with the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum, which leads to the symbiosis that produces nitrogen for plant growth. His research characterized genes in the bacterium that are responsible for sensing the nitrogen status of the plant. After completing his graduate research, Martin decided to combine his interests in molecular biology, plant-microbe interactions, and crop improvement. He therefore joined Dr. S. Tanksley at Cornell University who was a leader in using molecular biology approaches to solve problems in plant breeding.

Martin’s postdoctoral research at Cornell (1989–1992) was supported by an NSF Fellowship in Plant Biology. During this period, he used an experimental approach based on molecular genetic linkage maps to isolate the disease resistance gene, Pto, from tomato. This was the first resistance gene to be cloned from plants that plays a role in specific recognition of disease-causing organisms, and its cloning led to many new insights into how plants recognize and defend themselves against pathogens.

Martin joined the faculty of Purdue University in 1992 where he taught the introductory course in genetics and began an independent research career focused on understanding the molecular basis of disease resistance.

Martin joined the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1998 as a scientist and at the same time became a professor of plant pathology at Cornell University. Upon joining BTI, Martin established and became the director of the Center for Gene Expression Profiling, which provided genomics resources and expertise to scientists at BTI and Cornell. Martin’s research program expanded at BTI to include two large collaborative projects focused on genomics approaches to plant-microbe biology (one focused on tomato and the other on the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae). At BTI, his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the USDA-BARD, the Binational Science Foundation, and a number of private foundations.

Martin was a David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellow from 1995 to 2000, and is an ISI most highly cited author in the category of plant and animal sciences. He has trained twelve graduate students and more than twenty postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory and has taught courses at Cornell in plant molecular biology and molecular plant pathology.



Hugh MasonHugh Mason

Dr. Mason received a bachelor of science in molecular biology from the University of Texas, Austin, in 1976. After working as a histology technician at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, he entered graduate studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and earned a PhD in cellular and developmental biology in 1986. As a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Texas A&M University, he studied the molecular biology of plant responses to drought and other environmental stresses. During this time, he created transgenic plants for the study of plant gene regulation and promoter activity.

In 1992, Dr. Charles J. Arntzen recruited Dr. Mason to work in the Plant Biotechnology Program at the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University, in Houston, Texas. He was appointed research assistant professor and initiated seminal work there with Dr. Arntzen on plant-produced vaccines, publishing the first demonstration of a vaccine antigen expressed in a plant.

In September 1995, Dr. Mason moved to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) where he was appointed assistant research scientist at BTI and adjunct assistant professor of plant biology at Cornell. His collaboration with Dr. Arntzen there on plant-derived vaccines resulted in the first clinical trials performed with plant-derived recombinant pharmaceuticals (published 1998 and 2000). He was promoted to associate research scientist at BTI in 1999, and advised the PhD research of three Cornell students who earned their degrees in 2002 and 2003.

In 2002 Dr. Mason accepted the position of associate professor of plant biology at Arizona State University, and after creation of the School of Life Sciences in 2003, he joined the Faculty of Biomedicine and Biotechnology and served as their faculty leader during the first year. He is currently a faculty member of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology in the newly opened Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, and continues to work on development of enhanced plant expression systems for recombinant proteins, and their application to vaccine technology.



Greg MayGreg May

Greg joined Boyce Thompson Institute in 1995 as an assistant research plant molecular biologist in the program on Plant and Human Health under Charles Arntzen. In that program he worked to develop “plant-derived vaccines,” especially in potatoes. The vaccines were intended for the oral immunization of humans.







Delbert McCuneDelbert McCune

A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Caltech with a BS in 1956, Del entered graduate school in the Botany Department at Yale to work on the mode of action of plant growth regulators in the laboratory of Dr. Arthur W. Galston. He received a MS in 1957 and a PhD in 1960 and immediately joined the staff of Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) to work on research in what was then known as the “Fluoride Project.”

This research involved the development of methods for exposing plants to gaseous hydrogen fluoride (HF) and for the analysis of fluoride (F) in air and plant tissues as well as determining the effects of HF on the metabolism, physiology, growth, and reproduction of crops and native species. With the formation of the Environmental Biology Program in 1962 (originally named Plant Chemistry) and its increasing financial support by grants from governmental and industrial sources, Del’s research expanded into effects of air pollutants on plant-insect and plant-pathogen interactions; action of saline particles on plants; kinetics of aerosol deposition and removal by precipitation; selenium accumulation by plants on fly ash landfills; remote sensing for exposures to air pollutants; the joint action of air pollutants on plants; and methods for impact assessment for effects of HF and other pollutants on vegetation.

He served as consultant to or a member of advisory panels of the Environmental Protection Agency and National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council with respect to air-quality criteria for fluorides, sulfur oxides, photochemical oxidants, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter. He was an associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Quality. He served BTI on a number of committees including the Safety, the Benefit Plan, and the Distinguished Lecturer committees. He retired from BTI in 1996 and now resides in Keene, New Hampshire.



George L. McNewGeorge L. McNew

George McNew was the second managing director of the institute covering the period from 1948 to 1973, when he was succeeded by Richard Wellman. He remained at the institute as a Distinguished Scientist from 1974 to 1978, associating himself with the Bioregulant Chemicals group. A plant pathologist, McNew did research concerning the chemical processes responsible for disease in plants. He was an able administrator who improved salaries and pensions at the institute, hired young researchers to join the aging staff, purchased modern equipment, and for the first time actively sought government (rather than just industrial) sponsorship for research.

It was under McNew’s directorship that a closeness between administration and staff at all levels was developed. This led to a number of institute-wide social activities and a feeling of “family” that has never again been recaptured. He can also be credited as the person most responsible for the institute’s affiliation with Cornell University. Son of famed southern New Mexico rancher Bill McNew, he was valedictorian of both his 1926 class at Alamogordo High School and his 1930 class at New Mexico A&M (now New Mexico State University [NMSU]), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture with a major in biological sciences. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in plant pathology from Iowa State University in 1931 and 1935, respectively.

McNew published 155 scientific articles and books in a career that took him to the Rockefeller Institute; the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station; Iowa State University, where he was chairman of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology; U.S. Rubber Co.; the Boyce Thompson Institute; and back to NMSU. He came back to his native state in 1978 as a distinguished scientist and consultant to the dean of NMSU’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics. It was the first position of that kind offered at NMSU.

The institute established the George L. McNew Distinguished Scientist position in 1987 in honor of his outstanding contributions. The position is held by Richard C. Staples. He died on October 30, 1998 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at the age of ninety.



Harry W. MussellHarry W. Mussell

Harry joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1968 as an assistant scientist. He was assigned to the program on Plant Stress where he worked on the Verticillium wilt of tomato, concentrating especially on the polygalacturonases secreted by the pathogen. He left BTI in 1989 for the USDA Soil Conservation Service located in Ithaca, New York.







Gary PitmanGary Pitman

In 1962 Gary Pitman was given a stipend by the institute to conduct his PhD research on bark battles while a graduate student at Oregon State University. This fieldwork was conducted at the institute’s experimental forest biology forest near Grass Valley, California, which at that time was headed by Dr. J. P. Vité. Pitman’s work was focused on the elucidation of host factors that affected the production and effectiveness of aggregating pheromones in a pine engraver beetle and how these host factors can be manipulated to enhance the quantity of pheromone production by the male beetle.

After receiving his degree in 1965 he was offered a position by the institute as a forest entomologist and returned to the Grass Valley laboratory to continue his research on bark beetle pheromones. His work focused on indigenous beetle species found in California and in other forested states including Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho. This work also involved the development of techniques to collect and isolate bark beetle pheromones to help support the institute’s forest biology program on the isolation and identification of pheromones from other bark beetle species. His primary interest was the use of synthetic pheromones in controlling western bark beetle populations responsible for the destruction of hundreds of thousands of trees annually. Results of his research soon gained recognition by certain forest industries and the U.S Forest Service as a possible means of controlling these very destructive pests which eventually lead to the first successful bait and cut aerial application of aggregating pheromones in a slow release system.

Other studies also demonstrated that trees to be cut can also serve as population traps in a similar type of harvest program. Techniques using various configurations of traps for assessing population dynamics of beetle populations and their natural pests were effective with various synthetic pheromones.

Upon the institute’s termination of the forest biology program and closure of the Grass Valley facility in 1976, Dr. Pitman was transferred with financial support to the College of Forestry, Oregon State University and given a tenured position as an associate professor in the Department of Forest Science.



Alan RenwickAlan Renwick

Alan joined the institute in 1960 as a research assistant, with a degree in chemistry from Dundee, Scotland. While working in the laboratory of Robert G. Owens, he continued with graduate study at City College in New York, where he received his MA in chemistry. His strong interest in chemical aspects of biological interactions soon led him to join the institute’s research program in forest entomology. As a result, he received his doctor of forestry degree from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and quickly became a specialist in the chemistry of bark beetle pheromones. As a member of a very successful research team, led by Pierre Vité, he was involved in the development of the basic principles that are now used in the worldwide application of pheromones to control bark beetles.

When the institute moved from Yonkers to Ithaca, New York, in 1978, the institute’s Forest Biology Program was discontinued, and Dr. Renwick embarked on a new research effort to study the factors involved in host selection behavior of crucifer insects. This program resulted in many significant discoveries about the role of plant chemistry in mediating oviposition and feeding by these insects. Dr. Renwick was soon recognized as an authority on the oviposition behavior of lepidopterans and made a significant contribution to the overall understanding of plant-insect relationships with relevance to both agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Subsequent research of Dr. Renwick’s team provided key information linking plant chemistry, insect behavior, and sensory physiology to explain oviposition and feeding patterns of adults and larvae of several butterflies. In addition to studies on pests of brassica crops, Renwick’s team examined the chemical basis for recognition of host plants by monarch butterflies and successfully identified the oviposition stimulants from milkweed. Dr. Renwick’s later discovery, that sensitivity of lepidopterous larvae to feeding inhibitors may be controlled by the action of dietary constituents, is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the study of plant resistance to insects and related aspects of plant-insect interactions. In addition, this unexpected revelation of acquired sensitivity to phytochemicals has provided a base for biochemical studies to elucidate mechanisms of habituation and addiction in animals, including humans.

Dr. Renwick has published more than 140 research publications, including many book chapters. His efforts have aimed to demonstrate the value of chemical ecology in the improvement of crop plants and in expanding our knowledge of factors that determine host ranges of phytophagous insects in both natural and agricultural settings.

He retired from Boyce Thompson Institute in 2004.



Lizabeth J. RichterLizabeth J. Richter

Lizabeth J. Richter graduated in 1982 from Rice University, Houston, Texas, with a BA in biology and biochemistry. Liz worked in several laboratories as a research technician afterward including University of California, San Francisco, and NIH, Bethesda, Maryland. In 1994, Liz graduated from Baylor College of Medicine with a PhD in cell biology. With a broad background in cell and molecular biology and experience in immunology, Liz joined Charles J. Arntzen’s research group as a postdoctoral research associate where her skills complemented the program of producing edible vaccines in plants. Shortly thereafter, in 1995, Arntzen’s group left A&M IBT in Houston, Texas, to move to the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI).

Liz moved with the group focusing efforts on producing the Hepatitis B vaccine and Rotavirus proteins in potatoes and tomatoes. The Hepatitis B edible vaccine project resulted in using transgenic potatoes in human Phase 1 clinical trials performed by collaborators in Rochester, New York. During her time at BTI, 1996–2000, Liz gave many invited presentations at conferences and meetings representing Arntzen’s group speaking about the development of edible vaccines in transgenic plants. These included the Jenner Memorial Symposium, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 7–8, 1996, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jenner’s first experiments with cowpox as the world’s first vaccine.

Liz played softball on the BTI team, was a member of the Educational Outreach Committee of BTI, and received a Boyce Thompson Institute Recognition Award in 1997. The experience gained at BTI as a research associate, including helping on the IND proposal and preparing for the clinical trials, inspired Liz to look at pharmaceutical and biotech companies for her next career position.

In 2000, Liz moved back to the south and joined Lexicon Genetics, Inc. in The Woodlands, Texas, as a senior scientist. In 2004, as director of genetics, Liz directs six groups with ninety-three personnel and is responsible for production of the knockout mouse strains used in pharmaceutical discovery at Lexicon Genetics, Inc.



Samuel S. RistichSamuel S. Ristich

Sam joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1963 as an assistant scientist in Dewayne Torgeson’s group where he supervised the search for new insecticides, nematocides, and fungicides. In 1968 he, with Edward Buckley, Mark Crandall, William Dovel, and John Fortier, formed a group that studied the distribution of plants, fish, and benthic organisms in the Hudson River and adjacent marshes.

In 1977, as BTI was preparing to move from Yonkers to Ithaca, this group was placed in the Environmental Biology Program. Some of their findings were published in An Atlas of the Biologic Resources of the Hudson Estuary.

Sam retired from BTI in 1981. Since then he has continued his interests in mycology. Dr. R. E. Tulloss gave Sam mycological immortality by naming a new species of Amanita after him (Amanita ristichii), in a 1989 issue of Mycotaxon. Sam also published a book in 2003 entitled Sam’s Corner—The Public Journal of a Mushroom Guru (V. F. Thomas Co.). In the accompanying photo, he is wearing his “mushroom sweater.”



Donald W. RobertsDonald W. Roberts

Don joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) as an assistant insect pathologist in 1965 after a PhD at Berkeley, and an NSF postdoctoral fellowship in Europe. During his tenure, he was particularly interested in the entomopathogenic fungi, which translated into research on fungal development and their use in controlling insect pests. In 1978, a USDA/ARS group specializing in fungal diseases of insects at the University of Maine joined his group within the BTI building in Ithaca. Their lead scientist was Richard Soper, and his team included Ray Carruthers, Richard Humber, Ann Hajek, and several others. At the end of their ten-year contract, this group moved across the street to a USDA building where BTI/USDA collaboration continued.

In addition, BTIers collaborated with scientists in several Cornell University departments, especially Entomology, in research and training students at Ithaca and Geneva. These collaborators eventually formed a loosely organized group, the “Insect Pathology Resource Center.” In the mid-1970s, Roberts learned through travel, of the high level of interest worldwide on understanding and using insect pathogens for insect control. Roberts made trips to Japan and Africa, but these were soon extended to India, the Soviet Union, the Philippines, and Brazil. He obtained grant support for maintaining teams for ten years each in Brazil and the Philippines. He said: “As a child I detested travel; but as an adult scientist, I have been fascinated by the diversity, and even brilliance, of the problem-solving skills of scientists in other nations.”

Roberts considered that an added bonus to this phase of his career was the long-term friendships developed in the course of these scientific collaborations. In 1967, he retired from BTI as the Roy A. Young Scientist. He then joined the Department of Biology at Utah State University at Logan. There, he continues to conduct research on fungal pathogens of insects as a research professor in Insect Pathology. He lives there with his wife, Mae, and his grandchildren live nearby.



Fred David SackFred David Sack

Fred Sack was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs Ohio in 1969 with a degree in sociology. He then returned to New York City where he worked in the health field, first gathering data related to job classifications and career mobility, and later as a health care manager for Prison Health Services at the Rikers Island Men’s Detention Center. As an alternative to working in the slammer, he joined the PhD program in Plant Biology at Cornell University where he studied with Dominick Paolillo and M. V. Parthasarathy. He analyzed moss stomatal development and cell division and was awarded a doctoral degree in 1982. That year he joined A. Carl Leopold’s laboratory at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) as a postdoctoral researcher studying how plants sense the gravity vector.

He found that the kinetics of movement of heavy starch-filled organelles are consistent with threshold sensing times thus supporting the role of these organelles in sensing. In 1984 he became an assistant professor at Ohio State University where he now is professor and chair of the Department of Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology. He has published seventy-five research papers and reviews, and his research has been continuously funded, with support from NASA, NSF, and USDA. His work has reinforced the idea that plastid mass is central to g-vector sensing, and he helped establish the value of a moss single-cell system for analyzing how gravity regulates polar growth and cell organization. He also has extensively studied stomatal development in Arabidopsis. His lab recently found that a likely cell surface receptor, TOO MANY MOUTHS, probably controls stomatal spacing by orienting the plane and frequency of asymmetric divisions in response to intercellular signaling.

He is also active in teaching introductory and advanced plant biology courses such as Anatomy and Cell Biology. He lives in Rush Creek Village, a community of Eusonian houses designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, where he cultivates his garden and fosters the use of native plants.



David Leon SiroisDavid Leon Sirois

Dave came to the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) on March 1, 1967, after completing studies for a PhD in plant physiology at Iowa State University. In prior years, following service in the U.S. Army (1953–1956), he received BS (1961) and MS (1963) degrees in botany at the University of Maine. As a member of the Bioregulant Chemicals Program he became involved with the evaluation new organic substances for potential use as herbicides and plant growth regulators. His research, sponsored by several major companies, included studies of efficacy, structure-activity relationships, synergism and antagonism; testing of various formulations of potential herbicides; and conducting preliminary field studies. This work resulted in the identification of several promising herbicidal compounds.

Recognition by chemical companies of the imperative to assess the potential impacts that their products might have if released into natural ecosystems enabled him to receive contracts that expanded the scope of his research to include studies of the effects on plants of industrial substances and waste materials indigenous to commerce. An ancillary benefit of this work was that it enabled critical study of the protocols used for the assessment of toxicity of potential environmental contaminants to terrestrial and aquatic plants. When an ecological study of the Hudson River estuary was initiated in 1972, Dr. Sirois joined the team of scientists engaged in this project. His research mainly dealt with estimating and assessing primary production in the estuarine ecosystem. The results of this investigation showed maximum gross primary productivity in much of the estuary was comparable to that of other estuaries on the East Coast. However, in the lower reaches of the estuary near Manhattan, less primary productivity, lower levels of dissolved oxygen, and disturbed community metabolism were apparent. A synopsis of this research appeared in An Atlas of the Biological Resources of the Hudson Estuary prepared by the estuarine study group.

A decline in contract obligations in the latter part of his tenure afforded him the opportunity to pursue research of a more basic nature. The thrust of this effort was aimed at the isolation of the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis and metabolism of plant cytokinins and continued until his retirement in 1990. Dr. Sirois served on several BTI committees and chaired the Greenhouse Management Committee from 1978 to1990. A member of national weed science and plant growth regulator societies he served from 1988 to 1990 as business manager of the Plant Growth Regulator Society of America.



Richard C. StaplesRichard C. Staples

Dick Staples came to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1950. A graduate student in Plant Biochemistry at Columbia University, BTI provided a laboratory and other research facilities. There were four graduate students then; they shared a converted ladies room off the library on the second floor. Later that year, Staples was recalled to active duty in the navy during the Korean War, but returned in 1952 to complete his PhD degree in 1957.

Dick’s thesis dealt with carbon metabolism of uredospores of the bean rust fungus, and it became a life work. At BTI, Staples studied the physiology, metabolism, and cell biology of fungi. This had translated in research experience to studies on the development of pathogenicity traits by fungal pathogens, especially the rust fungi, but has also included Botrytis cinerea and Metarhizium anisopliae. The research involved the cloning of genes for the sensory perception of signals on the substratum responsible for triggering mitosis and appressorium development by the urediospore germling of Uromyces appendiculatus, and the development of cell biology tools for the study of appressorium development.

Staples stopped research at BTI in 1992, when he retired as the G. L. McNew Scientist, Emeritus, but he continued working in Harvey Hoch’s lab at the Geneva Agricultural Research Station until 1999.

In 1981, Staples was a recipient of a “Senior US Scientist” award from the Alexander von Humbolt Foundation, and worked in Aachen, Germany, for a year. A paper he published in 1983 that reported on a family of differentiation-specific genes in the rust fungi was awarded “Citation Classic” by Science Citation Index. In 1984, Dick was elected a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society. The society also gave him the Ruth Allen Award, in 1994, for the discovery with Harvey Hoch, of the signal ridge on the stomatal guard cell that informs most rust fungi where to develop the appressorium for colonization of their host plants.

At present Dick continues as a reviews editor for FEMS Microbiology Letters. Each year he gives occasional lectures at the Department of Plant Pathology where he is an adjunct professor, and he writes invited reviews.



David B. SternDavid B. Stern

David Stern joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1989, when he came from University of California, Berkeley. He joined a new Program in Plant Molecular Biology, headed by Steve Howell, where his major interests lay in the area of posttranscriptional gene regulation, and the nuclear regulation of plant organelle genes, especially chloroplast genes. He chose to come to BTI, he has said, because of the quality of the institution, its liaison to Cornell, and the beauty of the surrounding area. At that time, too, Ralph Hardy was committed to building a plant molecular biology program, something that was exciting to a young scientist with his technical background that included a PhD with Bill Thompson at Carnegie/Stanford, and a year at Cambridge on a Winston Churchill fellowship.

For David, his research has been an odyssey through several model systems including spinach, tobacco, Chlamydomonas, the ubiquitous Arabidopsis, and maize, using a variety of approaches including biochemistry, genetics, and genomics. Despite all that, he felt his background in genetics was weak, and he took a one-year sabbatical in Paris, France, in 1995–1996. Due to a timely train strike, he met his future wife, Karen, and he has concluded that scientific research was both a knowledge- and character-building experience, and “it never fails to offer new avenues.”

Well, he is a painter by hobby, as well. “I feel most fortunate to have found BTI,” he has said. “My story may be a fairly typical one—full of chance encounters, supportive associates, and stimulation by the unpredictable road inherent in basic biology research. It is, perhaps, less typical that I have remained in this institution, and risen through its ranks. Today, mobility is common place, and the prior three Presidents had all been hired from the outside. I believe that internal promotions often reflect stability and self-confidence in an institution, and that this is an apt description of the BTI of 2004.” David became president of BTI in 2004.



Raymond St. LegerRaymond St. Leger

Ray joined Boyce Thompson Institute in 1987 as a postdoctoral associate working with Don Roberts in the Plant Protection Program. In 1997, he was promoted to assistant center mycologist. He studied the insect fungal pathogen, Metarhizium anisopliae, including its development as a pathogen and its protein virulence factors. Of these factors, he elucidated their structures, genes, and activities. One of these, Pr1, was a protein induced early in the infection process and was thought to be the most critical in enabling the fungus to colonize its host.

In 1998, he moved to the University of Maryland.



Aladar SzalayAladar Szalay

Aladar joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1977 as an assistant scientist in the program on Nitrogen-fixation headed by Alva App. He then assembled a group around him that studied the molecular biology of nitrogen fixing bacteria, a group that was unique at BTI at the time.

He left BTI in 1987.







Mary A. TopaMary A. Topa

Mary received a BA in biology from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a PhD in plant physiology from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She joined the institute in 1992 as part of the Environmental Biology Program. While at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), she examined how trees respond to various soil stresses, including flooding, drought, nutrient-poor soils, and atmospheric pollutants. She looked at phosphorus uptake characteristics of southern pines, and whether aboveground growth traits controlled uptake at the root membrane level.

Interestingly, she found that net phosphorus uptake in southern pines is controlled more by influx of phosphorus into the root than efflux out of the root, which may in part be a function of the slow diffusivity of phosphate through soils. In addition, her ozone work showed that sugar maple is quite susceptible to ozone damage under light levels typically found within a tree’s canopy and in the understory. Prior to this study, sugar maple had been described as a moderately tolerant species because previous research had not examined how low light may affect carbon source/sink relationships and injury repair mechanisms.

Mary also examined the genetic basis for whole-plant carbon source/sink relationships in field-grown loblolly pine in a collaborative project with North Carolina State University. Essentially they examined whether fast-growing trees had different carbon acquisition and allocation strategies than slow-growing populations of loblolly pine. Surprisingly, they found no difference in carbon acquisition (net photosynthesis) among the various populations in how they partitioned recently fixed carbon into various storage compounds, and in how they allocated whole-tree biomass. The most significant differences between the fast- and slow-growing populations were in fine root characteristics: annual production, turnover, and mycorrhizal populations.

Her current and long-range research interests focus on the following areas, with an emphasis on examining in situ root system (roots + associated biota) function, particularly carbon/nutrient interactions: (1) how root systems of long-lived perennials respond to natural edaphic stresses and resource heterogeneity, and anthropogenic stresses; (2) how these responses may account for the wide variation in aboveground growth that is generally observed in tree populations; and (3) how rhizophere biota alter root system and below ground ecosystem function.

Mary left BTI in 2004 after accepting the position of director of science and research at the Holden Arboretum in Ohio.



Dewayne C. TorgesonDewayne C. Torgeson

Dewayne C. Torgeson received his BS and MS degrees from Iowa State University and his PhD from Oregon State University. He began his professional career at the institute in 1952 as a plant pathologist, working on an industrial project related to discovery and development of pesticides. Torgeson served as program director of the Bioregulant Chemicals Program from 1963 to 1985. He edited a number of volumes on pesticides.

He was corporate secretary from 1973 to his retirement in 1990. As corporate secretary his responsibilities included operations, budget, personnel, as well as Boyce Thompson Institute’s treasurer. He served on the institute’s Board of Directors from 1978 to 1996, when he became an emeritus director. He played a major role in coordinating the institute’s move from Yonkers to Ithaca and performed selflessly under four managing directors/presidents. He was an avid gardener and took great pride in his grounds. He died in 2002.



Joyce Van EckJoyce Van Eck

Joyce Van Eck came to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1997. She received her PhD in 1993 from Cornell University in the Plant Breeding Department. Her thesis dealt with the development of a system for tomato protoplast fusion to provide material that could be used for chromosomal studies. Her research focus at BTI has been the development and application of biotechnological techniques to three major food crops: potato, tomato, and banana. The various genes she studied have the potential to strengthen a plant’s resistance to disease and insects, improve fruit characteristics, enhance nutritional quality, and induce plant cells to produce macromolecular (protein) pharmaceuticals.

Since 1998, she has participated in the Educational Outreach Committee. This committee provided her with an outlet for her interest in education and her belief that it is important for scientists to inform the general public about science and their research. Her involvement included presentations, tours of the institute and her lab, hosting various student groups in her lab for activities, and development of a project called Nature Explorers that is geared for after school programs.



David A. WeinsteinDavid A. Weinstein

The central theme of his research has been to find ways to relate basic plant properties, characteristics, and functions to their significance at higher levels of organization. To accomplish this, his laboratory develops models and analytical techniques for dissecting pattern from complex data sets. He came to the institute in 1991 after receiving a BA from Dartmouth College (anthropology environmental science), an MS from the University of New Hampshire (botany), a PhD from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ecology), and after working at Cornell University for a decade as one of the founding members of the Ecosystems Research Center.

While at the center, he became part of the ROPIS team (Response of Plants to Interacting Stresses), and eventually solidified his ties to Boyce Thompson Institute by joining the Environmental Biology Program. In the past fifteen years, David has established a capability in the institute to extrapolate the physiological stress response of plants to entire vegetation communities and ecosystems. Through the creation of a model of tree physiology and carbon processing, TREGRO, and its application to a wide variety of different types of tree species, his group has identified the ways by which processes such as reallocation and storage, measured on an hourly time scale, determine annual and decadal differences in the survival of stressed trees. Further, they pioneered the processes of linking this model with one developed to simulate ecosystems, permitting the extrapolation of physiological processes to predictions of ecological effects over landscapes and long time periods. With these tools they have produced predictions that extrapolate cellular effects of ozone to ecosystem change for more than seventy different forests across the United States.

David’s laboratory is widely known for this use of computer models, with their methods and models currently in use by the U.S. EPA as a standard for investigating effects on forests. They have also produced educational software to teach approaches to solving key problems of the environment, studied genetic degradation of threatened tree species, developed toolboxes for assembling spatially explicit multimedia ecological models from reusable components, and simulated long-term changes in NO3- stream exports. Their work continues the goal of extrapolating lower-level processes to large-scale systems at higher levels of biological organization and to identify patterns in biological data from all scales of biology.



Leonard H. WeinsteinLeonard H. Weinstein

After a couple of years as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, and trying to get as far away from engineering as possible, Len earned a BS degree from Penn State in landscape architecture, a discipline in which he had an equally undistinguished career. He went back to school for an MS in plant pathology/entomology at the University of Massachusetts and a PhD degree in plant physiology at Rutgers University, culminating with a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Rutgers conducting some of the earliest research on the use of chelating agents in agriculture. It is difficult to know now whether this flirting with higher education was a means of avoiding work, using up his GI Bill credits, or seeking a higher education.

He came to Boyce Thompson Institute in 1955 to work on a new project sponsored by a consortium of commercial rose growers, with the goal of finding new ways of improving the vase life and quality of cut roses. The research led to an excellent new flower preservative that never made the market because one of the ingredients was shown to be carcinogenic. A bad start. But the research led to studies on the senescence of cut and intact roses. Finding that rose petals contained extremely high concentrations of quinic acid, his research was partly diverted to a study of aromatic biosynthesis and the role of quinic acid, thought to be a metabolic dead end, as a precursor in the shikimic acid pathway. This research was supported by the Atomic Energy Commission and NSF.

During the same years, Len worked with Clark Porter on plant virus tumor metabolism, using wound tumor and pea enation viruses as model systems. This research was supported for eight years by NIH grants. Although not necessarily a born juggler, he also joined the fluoride project, a group under the direction of Percy W. Zimmerman, perhaps best known for his research on plant growth hormones. After Zim’s death, his associate, A. E. Hitchcock, became the fluoride project leader for a short period, retired, and Len became the project leader. This began many years of research on fluorides and plant growth, metabolism, yield, and quality, becoming what some think made him an international authority.

Following a sabbatic leave at Yale, he began a project on effects of stress on polyamine metabolism. He retired in 1992, but continued research on phytoremediation of petroleum and metal cyanides by plants. Over his career, Len was the author or co-author of about 175 publications, including many book chapters and two books, the most recent (2004) entitled Fluorides in the Environment: Effects on Plants and Animals (co-authored with Alan Davison). Len was named program director of Plant Chemistry, which soon morphed to Environmental Biology, a position he held from 1963 to his retirement. In 1969, he was named the William Boyce Thompson Scientist, and in 1973 was elected to the institute Board of Directors, a position held until 1992. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum from 1969 to 1992.

At Cornell University, he was an adjunct professor in the Department of Natural Resources, was director of the Cornell Ecosystems Research Center for two years, and was a graduate advisor in the fields of Environmental Toxicology and Natural Resources from 1978 to 1992. He also served on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board and on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Science Advisory Board; was a member of the joint Soviet-American Commission in the Field of Environmental Protection; and testified on environmental funding to both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for six years. In 1983 and 1985, he and his wife Sylvia were the guests of the Chinese government and presented a number of lectures on environmental pollution throughout China.

His hobbies are working in stained glass and being a bot fly to management.



Richard H. WellmanRichard H. Wellman

Richard Wellman was the institute’s third managing director, serving from 1974 to 1980, succeeding George L. McNew. He worked at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) beginning in 1939 as a fellow with the Carbide and Carbon Chemicals project, testing chemicals for biological activity as pesticides. He left in 1954 to assume a management position at Union Carbide Corporation. He maintained his affiliations with the institute, becoming a member of the Research Advisory Committee in 1968 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 1969.

Wellman received his PhD from Washington State University in 1939 and served one year as the first plant pathologist at the Prosser, Washington, experiment station. He was the BTI managing director who supervised the move to Cornell University, a hectic but exciting time, and he led the institute ably during this transition. During his tenure, he initiated research focused on global agricultural problems, and a number of staff members became involved with international centers of research. Although most of the international effort failed, the institute was able to maintain a considerable effort in South America.



Thomas J. WolpertThomas J. Wolpert

Tom joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1983 as a postdoc with Vlado Macko in the Plant Stress Program. With Macko, he isolated and characterized a number of bioactive compounds that have a role in pathogenesis, among them Victorin. Tom and Vlado also identified the Victorin-binding protein in oats, a signal contribution to the field of host-specific toxins.

Tom left BTI in 1989 for an assistant professorship at Oregon State University where he has continued this work.





Alan WoodAlan Wood

Alan received a PhD from the Department of Plant Pathology at Purdue University and joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1968. His graduate and early research at BTI included the first documentation of the divided genomes of component plant viruses. In the early 1970s, he studied the ds-RNA viruses of plants and fungi in collaboration with Gert Streissle, Peter Day, and Robert Bozarth. During this time, he also collaborated with Lloyd Old’s group at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute on hybrid antibody research. During 1974–1975 Alan was a visiting fellow with Bob Shepherd in the Department of Plant Pathology at University of California, Davis developing techniques for the inoculation of plant protoplasts with cauliflower mosaic virus particles and DNA.

From 1975 to 1978, he was a member of the BTI Building Committee responsible for planning the BTI facility on the Cornell University campus. From 1975 to 1996 his primary research interest was in the area of insect virology/pathology, developing the first insect-virus tissue-culture plaque assay techniques and the first viral-induced protein studies with baculoviruses. In the early 1980s he began recombinant DNA studies with baculoviruses.

On August 9, 1989, he performed the first U.S. field release of a recombinant virus, using a recombinant form of the Autographa baculovirus to control cabbage loopers, for which BTI received five minutes on the Today show. In 1993 a similar experiment was conducted for the U.S. Forest Service with a baculovirus to control gypsy moths. From 1989 to 1994, he chaired the Cornell University Recombinant DNA Committee and in 1994 was appointed to the USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Committee. In 1993, together with Pat Hughes and Lee Compton (former BTI postdoc), he cofounded AgriVirion, Inc., a biotech company producing pharmaceutical proteins in larvae with the baculovirus expression vector system. AgriVirion merged with Chesapeake PERL Inc. in 2002.

From 1991 to 2001, Alan participated in collaborative research projects with Mike Shuler, Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering at Cornell. The original NSF research projects focused on optimization of insect cell culture bioreactors for the production of recombinant proteins and included Bob Granados. Later studies were conducted for NASA to elucidate the influence of gravity and various culture conditions on the eukaryotic glycosylation pathway. In April 2001 he assumed the position of founding director of the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Institute at Mississippi State University where he was involved in research, teaching, and economic development. During 2003–2004, at the invitation of the Secretary of Agriculture, he was a participant in an eight-member USDA Research, Education and Economics Task Force, which wrote a report for the USDA and Congress recommending the formation of a National Institute for Food and Agriculture.



Ruth YanaiRuth Yanai

Ruth joined Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1989, when she was still completing a PhD at Yale in ecosystem ecology with Herb Bormann. Her partner at the time was a former New Haven activist who wanted to become an organic farmer. His first choice of a next location was southern Vermont, but there were no research universities in southern Vermont. Ruth had lived in Ithaca in 1985, taking courses in soil science (Yale may have a forestry school, but it doesn’t have an ag school), and knew this would be a good destination for a would-be organic farmer. So she called up Tim Fahey, who said that he had just seen David Weinstein at a picnic, and he was looking for a modeler. “Didn’t you say you wanted to be a modeler?” Ruth called David Weinstein, who promptly offered her a job in the EPRI-sponsored ROPIS project (Response of Plants to Interacting Stresses) through Cornell’s Center for Environmental Research, but housed at BTI. She became a BTI employee in 1991 and a research associate in 1992, which allowed her to write grant proposals.

She continued to work with David Weinstein in modeling the effects of environmental stress on individual trees and forests and expanded into modeling understory development for the Northeast Decision Model (USFS). She also had her first competitive grant from the USDA NRICGP, which took her back to the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and other sites in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In 1994, Ruth had just been assigned a windowless office on the first floor of BTI (maybe because she was made a senior research associate), and was grumbling about having to move, when she got a phone call from the University of New Hampshire for a job interview. She had gotten a rejection letter the previous year, saying that the position was closed and she hadn’t been on the short list anyway. But a new search committee made a different short list, and Ruth was interviewed and offered the job. Meanwhile, she also interviewed at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and was offered that job, too. She has been at SUNY-ESF ever since, first as assistant professor and now as associate professor.

After teaching an introductory soils class at ESF for years, she now teaches forest ecology to undergraduates and a graduate seminar on preparing manuscripts for publication. She does more research than teaching and has continued to fund projects in and around Hubbard Brook, but finally managed to get a nutrient cycling project with the New York State Energy Research and Development Association. Her interest in modeling nutrient uptake began when she first was assigned to link TREGRO to the soil model she wrote for it, and this has led into studies of nutrient uptake and root dynamics.



Zohara YanivZohara Yaniv

Zohara Yaniv came to Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in 1967 from the Department of Plant Biochemistry, Columbia University, as a postdoctoral research fellow (Frasch Foundation) with Dick Staples. Her thesis had dealt with the plant pigment, phytochrome and its control of seed germination, so when she joined Dick Staples to work on host-parasite relationship in the bean rust fungus, it represented quite a change. “But,” she said, “I never regretted it, on the contrary, my eleven years at BTI were very rewarding in my scientific career.” Her research studies, in collaboration with Dick Staples, involved the ribosomal activities in uredospores of the bean rust fungus and their role in spore germination and senescence with the hope of understanding better the mechanism of obligate parasitism.

During the summers of 1968 to 1977, Zohara was an instructor in the NSF Student Science Training Program at BTI, and in the last two summers she was the director of that wonderful program, which helped to bring young people closer to science and brought to all of us a great deal of fun.

In 1978, when BTI left Yonkers and moved to Ithaca, Zohara left BTI, and moved with her family (Yehuda, herself, and their two daughters) back to Israel. There she was appointed senior scientist at the then newly formed Department of Medicinal Plants, at the Agriculture Research Center, Bet-Dagan, Israel. She worked there on ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants in Israel as well as studies related to the effect of environment on secondary metabolites. She was a visiting scientist at the NIH, Bethesda, Maryland (1987), at the University in Paris (1995), and acted as a visiting professor at the University in Vienna and the Academy of Science in Shanghai, China (2001–2002.). For six summers Zohara conducted an international course in ethnobotany at MAICH, Chania, Crete, Greece.

She is co-author of the book The Medicinal Plants of the Holy Land (2002), and co-editor of a Handbook of Medicinal Plants (Haworth Medical Press, 2005). She remains an adjunct professor in three universities in Israel, and is very active in promoting the academic study and research of medicinal plants.



Roy YoungRoy Young

Dr. Young was born and educated through his baccalaureate degree in New Mexico. He served as a U.S. Navy deck officer from 1943 to 1946 and, after the World War II, he went on for his doctorate at Iowa State University in plant pathology. In 1948, Roy went on to Oregon State University, where he spent twenty-eight years in various positions ranging from professor to department head to dean of research to vice president for Research and Graduate Studies. His tenure at Oregon State University ended when he was recruited to become the chancellor of the University of Nebraska, a position he held from 1976 to 1980. His career culminated as managing director/president of Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) from 1980 to 1986. After retiring from the institute, he returned to Oregon State University as the director of the Office for Natural Resources, a position he held until 1990.

Dr. Young’s membership on boards and national committees are too numerous to list, but he chaired the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges Committee on the Environment and the Special Committee on Energy and the Environment, was on the Sea Grant Advisory Panel, served on several U.S. National Academy of Sciences committees, served on the Boards of Directors of the Boyce Thompson Institute, the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum, Pacific Power and Light Co., PacifiCorp, the American Phytopathological Society, the Oregon Graduate Institute, the Governor’s Science Council (Oregon), and was on the Board of Trustees of Ithaca College.

As the fourth managing director/president of the institute, Roy was responsible for initiating the program in molecular genetics and worked diligently to acquire funding to support other programs. During his tenure as managing director/president, the management of the institute’s endowment was placed in the hands of top money managers. His distinguished presence and attractive personality made him many important friends and contacts. The credit for the significant Park Foundation grant that the institute received during Dr. Arntzen’s tenure as president can be traced directly to Roy’s initiatives.