Tag Archives: Award

Dr. Shawn Mansfield Named Forest Biotechnologist of the Year

Vancouver, BC Shawn D Mansfield, a professor in the Department of Wood Science at the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, has been named 2014 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year by the Institute of Forest Biosciences.

Mansfield is the sixth scientist to win this award. Mansfield was nominated because of his unwavering dedication to producing world-class research, and ability to bring this topic to a broad audience with humility and an open mind that encourages valuable dialogue.

Lori Knowles, Chair of the Institute of Forest Biosciences Board (IFB), and Faculty in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada notes how critical communicating with diverse stakeholders is in this field. With effort and dedication Shawn has proven that discussing complex concepts in biotechnology with people from various backgrounds and perspectives is possible and productive. We need more scientists like Shawn who can inspire meaningful dialogue about the social and environmental need for responsibly used forest biosciences.

Mansfields scientific career has focussed on understanding the molecular underpinnings of plant cell wall biosynthesis and development. Based, in part, on studies of the molecular biochemistry of tree secondary cell wall metabolism, Mansfield generally uses poplar as a model organism to investigate the fundamentals of cell wall development, but with an emphasis on developing solutions to real-world problems.

According to Adam Costanza, President of the IFB, Dr. Mansfields research is producing information that will be useful to breeders developing trees for biofuel production and resilience to climate and pest stresses. This is a critical area of focus for the IFB. Connecting research, like Shawns, to downstream users will speed up the process of showing on-the-ground value says Costanza.

Mansfields research uses a unique combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, analytical chemistry and plant cell wall characterization techniques, to elucidate the influence of various biosynthetic pathways on the development, growth, chemistry and ultrastructure of secondary xylem formation. Mansfield says our primary research is fundament in nature and curiosity driven, however, the insights gained should help shape our ability to improve and protect the very trees that underpin one of the most important industries in North America, and more importantly form a vital part of our natural ecosystems.

Malcolm Campbell, IFB board member and Vice Principal of Research at the University of Toronto Scarborough highlighted Professor Mansfield’s impressive record as a scientist and as a science communicator. “Shawn is truly a world-leading scientist, irrespective of discipline. His cutting-edge research is being published in the very best of journals, including premiere generalist journals like “Science”. This is an impressive feat for any scientist, let alone one who is conducting research on what is sometimes viewed as a “niche” area. His work is highly regarded in his field, and has also captured the public imagination. The latter is largely attributable to Shawn’s skills as a highly effective communicator – someone who is able to engage a vast array of communities.”

Mansfield earned his doctorate in Forest Biotechnology (Forestry) from The University of British Columbia, his Masters from Dalhousie University and Bachelor’s degree in biology from Mount Allison University. He did his Post Doctoral Fellowship at Forest Research (Scion) New Zealand, before joining the Faculty of Forestry at UBC in 2000, where he was the recipient of a Canada Research Chair in 2002. During his tenure at UBC, he has published 165 peer-reviewed articles and 18 book chapters and is the holder of 4 patents. Mansfield is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Sciences, and recipient of a Scientific Achievement Award from IUFRO, a MacMaster Fellowship from CSIRO and the David J Gifford Award in Tree Biology from the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists.

William A. Powell named Forest Biotechnologist of the Year

Cary, N.C. Dr. William A. Powell, a professor and director of the Council on Biotechnology in Forestry at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., has been named 2013 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year by the Institute of Forest Biosciences (IFB).

His peers within the Forest Biosciences Partnership, an international group of forestry and biotechnology professionals, selected Powell as the fifth scientist to win this award, which recognizes the forest biotechnologist who best exemplifies responsible uses of forest biotechnology and actively promotes science, dialogue and stewardship through his or her work.

According to his peers, Powell was nominated because of his pioneering work, leadership and outreach in the use of biotechnology to restore one of the most iconic forest trees, the American chestnut.

Lori Knowles, chair of the board at IFB, said, Bill’s willingness to communicate about his work, engage with the public, and collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines is both commendable and visionary.  Bill embodies the principles of science, dialogue and stewardship on which the IFB is built, and thus he is an ideal recipient of this year’s Forest Biotechnologist of the Year award.

Powell has worked on this topic during and since his Ph.D. research, contributing a great deal of basic science as well as technology development. The basic science has included insights into mechanisms of pathogenesis, including studying the roles of virus-associates of the chestnut fungus, designing anti-microbial peptides and identifying pathogen resistance-enhancing genes. Technology advances have included helping development of new transformation methods, rapid screening approaches for assessing resistance, and means to accelerate flowering to advance research and breeding.  In addition to American chestnut, Powell has advanced research on American elm and hybrid poplar.  His work has been widely cited, with more than 200 citations from 2007 to 2011.  Earlier this year, Powell presented at the National Geographic sponsored TEDxDeextinction conference.

Steve Strauss, a professor with the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, said, “Bill’s program has made several major advances in technology to produce and accelerate the development of blight-resistant chestnut.  He also has worked hard to inform the public about his work and its rationale.  He exemplifies what this award is intended to recognize.”

As director of the Council for Forest Biosciences at ESF, Powell uses this platform to actively promote outreach and transparency.  He has created field days, engaged hundreds of students from high school to graduate levels in fieldwork or through undergraduate teaching, planted transgenic trees in public demonstration plots, such as the New York Botanical Garden, and takes steps to involve civic leaders.

Like all the nominees, Bill has accomplished a lot over his career. I think Bills work with the Forest Health Initiative in finding native genes resistant to the chestnut blight, and his ability to make those complex techniques easy to understand for the general public are what set him apart this year said Adam Costanza, president of the Institute of Forest Biosciences.

Powell earned his doctorate in biology from Utah State University and his bachelors degree in biology from Salisbury State University of Maryland. During his tenure at ESF, he has published 40 peer-reviewed articles and seven book chapters.

Dr. Ron Sederoff Named 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year

Raleigh, North Carolina

Dr. Ron Sederoff, Distinguished University Professor, Edwin F. Conger Professor of Forestry & Environmental Resources and Co-Director of the Forest Biosciences Group at NC State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA has been named 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year by the Institute of Forest Biosciences (IFB).

Dr. Ron Sederoff – 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year

Sederoff was selected by his peers within the Forest Biotechnology Partnership, an international group of forestry and biotechnology professionals.  Sederoff is the third scientist to win this award.  It is given to the forest biotechnolo

gist who best exemplifies responsible uses of forest biotechnology and actively promotes science, dialogue, and stewardship through their work.

Susan McCord, Executive Director of the IFB said, The candidates that the Forest Biosciences Partners nominated were world class researchers. Dr. Sederoff has contributed significantly to the field of forest biotechnology this year, and in the past three decades, particularly with regard to training the next generations of Forest Biotechnologists. It is a great legacy.

According to his nominators, Dr. Sederoff was selected because of his leadership in modern forest biotechnology, his track record of scientific innovation, and his willingness to challenge the status quo with unique perspectives and insight that invite broad engagement in research.

Sederoff is among the top forest biotechnology scientists in the world having worked in forest biotechnology for 28 years. In 1988 he established the Forest Biosciences Group at NC State University that focused on the genetic basis of quantitative

traits in trees, using molecular genetics to advance tree improvement and on the molecular basis of wood formation, particularly lignin biosynthesis. Trees of particular interest have been pines, eucalypts and chestnuts.

Among his recent accomplishments is the development of a systems biology approach to the biosynthesis of lignin in partnership with Dr. Vincent Chiang, also of NC State University, and leading an effort on genomics of the beech family to develop chestnut genomics as a major step toward the restoration of the American chestnut.

Researchers are already using genomic sciences for

applications in human, animal and crop health. Its time for us to use the technology for environmental health according to Sederoff. Fast-growing, high quality trees grown as crops can greatly reduce the pressure on natural forest land. It should be possible to attack deforestation, habitat destruction, and climate change through ˜domestication of trees, and the modification of trees to help solve environmental problems, including bioenergy.

Sederoff is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences one of three Members in all Forest Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Member of the International Academy of Wood Science.  In 2004, he received an honorary Doctorate in Forest Science from the Swedish Agricultural University. A native of Montreal Canada, he is married to Heike Winter Sederoff and has three children, Kim, Sarah and Henry.

Adam Costanza, President of the IFB had this to day about the selection of Sederoff as 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year, Top forest biotechnology researchers consider Dr. Sederoff a leader in this field for good reasons. Ron is one of the fathers of this technology, yet he continues to imagine how it can be put to use to benefit people, the environment, and save threatened trees. The Forest Biosciences Partners continue to nominate true visionaries as Forest Biotechnologist of the Year. Im happy that I get to work with Ron and learn from his insight in science, dialogue, and stewardship of forest biotechnology.

The Forest Biosciences Partnership will name another Forest Biotechnologist of the Year in 2012.  The recipient can be any practitioner in the field regardless of their research affiliations.

More information is available at the Institute of Forest Biotechnologys website:www.forestbio.org

Media Contacts:
Adam Costanza | Institute of Forest Biosciences| adam.costanza@forestbio.org
Ron Sederoff | NC State University | ron_sederoff@ncsu.edu