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Dr. Charles Maynard & Dr. William Powell

We are very pleased to announce that at the April 30, 2014 Faculty Meeting, Drs. Charles Maynard, Professor in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management and Dr. William Powell, Professor in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology were named the College’s Exemplary Researchers for 2014-15. This 9th year of the Exemplary Researcher is unique, as it is the first ever to recognize a faculty team!  

This College-level award recognizes successful, currently active researchers with exemplary research activity, publication record and a graduate/undergraduate student mentorship program.  The nomination process allows for nominations from different categories: Lifetime Career Achievement - for which Drs. Maynard and Powell were nominated, Mid-Career Achievement, and Early Career Achievement.

Drs. Maynard and Powell have collaborated productively for nearly 25 years, along with a group of more than 60 students.  Their goals have been to restore the American chestnut (Castanea dentata), utilizing their dual expertise in forest genetics (Powell) and plant/tissue culture (Maynard), and also to apply their techniques to the American Elm and Hybrid Poplar.  Together they have published more than 20 joint papers and chapters, ranging from plant disease to horticulture, with financial support from the American Chestnut Foundation, McIntire-Stennis, NSF, USDA and others.

As described by the team, the  American chestnut project “has evolved from basic research into a multifaceted endeavor which includes identification of plant pathogen resistance-enhancing genes, the development of American chestnut tissue culture, field testing chestnut trees from tissue culture, public participation through identification of rare remnant survival chestnut trees, collection and exchange of viable nuts and the establishment of large restoration plantations throughout New York State.”

Ongoing activities include “basic research on single and pyramided resistance-enhancing gene designs, identification of genes associated with Asian chestnut resistance, chestnut tissue culture and gene transfer into American chestnut trees, determination of genetic diversity in remnant chestnut populations, greenhouse and field testing of resistant transgenic trees, collection of rare chestnut germ plasm, and the establishment of germ plasm archives throughout New York.”

At two recent presentations (Botanical Gardens, Bronx, NY; Travis Lecture, Gateway Center) Drs. Powell and Maynard explained that the American chestnut was once the most abundant tree in the eastern United States forest, with historic, economic and ecosystem values. The audiences gasped when shown photographs of the "giants of Eastern forests," massive chestnut trees from the late 1800s. The forests changed after an exotic fungus from Asia, Cryphonectria parasitica, was discovered in the United States. Within 50 years, that fungus killed between 3 and 5 billion chestnut trees, according to Powell. The chestnut tree was essentially lost, he said, since the mature, larger trees simply no longer exist. "It's not extinct.  It's just functionally extinct."

Academic facts for each component of our Exemplary Faculty Team:

Charles Maynard, Professor, Faculty of Forest and Natural Resources Management; Co-Director, American Chestnut and Restoration Project

Education:  Ph.D 1980, Forest Biology and Wood Science; M.S. 1977, Forest Biology; and B.S. 1974, Forest Management – Iowa State University

Courses Taught:

BTC 426/EFB 626:  Plant Tissue Culture Methods: FOR 481:  Introduction to Arboriculture

Three recent publications among many:

Nelson, C.D., W.A. Powell, C.A. Maynard, K.M. Baier, A.E. Newhouse, S.A. Merkle, C.J. Nairn, L. Kong, J.E. Carlson, C. Addo-Quaye, M.E. Staton, F.V. Hebard, L.L. Georgi, A.G. Abbott, and B.A. Olukolu. 2013. The Forest Health Initiative, American chestnut (Castanea dentata) as a model for forest tree restoration: biological research program. Acta Hort (in press).

Oakes, A.D., W.A. Powell, and C.A. Maynard. 2013. Doubling acclimatization survival of micropropagated American chestnuts with darkness and shortened rooting induction time. J. Environ. Hort. 31(2):77–83

Baier, K.M., C.A. Maynard, and W.A. Powell. 2012. Early flowering in chestnut species induced under high intensity, high dose light in growth chambers. Journal of The American Chestnut Foundation 26:8-10

William A. Powell, Professor, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology; Co-Director, American Chestnut and Restoration Project; Director Council on Biotechnology in Forestry

Education:  Ph.D 1986, Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT; B.S. 1982, Biology, Salisbury State University, Salisbury, MD.

Courses taught:

EFB 307 Principles of Genetics; EFB 308 Genetics Lab; BTC 425/EFB 625 Plant Biotechnology; BTC Research Design and Professional Development

Three recent publications among many:

Newhouse, AE,JE Spitzer, CA Maynard, WA Powell. 2014. Leaf Inoculation Assay as a Rapid Predictor of Chestnut Blight Susceptibility. Plant Disease 98:4-9

Zhang B, AD Oakes, AE Newhouse, KM Baier, CA Maynard and WA Powell. 2013. A threshold level of oxalate oxidase transgene expression reduces Cryphonectria parasitica - induced necrosis in a transgenic American chestnut (Castanea dentata) leaf bioassay. Transgenic Research 22, Issue 5 (2013), Page 973-982

Barakat, A., M. Staton, C. Cheng, J. Park, N. B. M. Yassin, S. Ficklin, C. Yeh, F. Hebard, K. Baier, W. Powell, S. C. Schuster, N. Wheeler, A. Abbott, J. E Carlson and R. Sederoff. 2012. Chestnut resistance to the blight disease: insights from transcriptome analysis. BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:38

This award provides a $5,000 research account and a Presidential salary adjustment.  Drs. Maynard and Powell plan to present a campus-wide research seminar highlighting their work as the first seminar in the Adaptive Peaks Series during the 2014-15 academic year.  At that time they will be presented with a plaque recognizing this achievement, as well as a reception in their honor.

Congratulations to Dr. Charles Maynard and Dr. William Powell on this well-deserved honor!