CORVALLIS, Ore. – Steven Strauss, a distinguished professor of forest biotechnology at Oregon State University, has been named the 2008 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year by the Institute of Forest Biotechnology.
Strauss, a pioneer in the genetics and applied biotechnology of forest trees, was selected for this honor by the Forest Biotechnology Partnership, an international group of forestry and biotechnology professionals. He is the first recipient of this award, which recognizes “the forest biotechnologist who best exemplifies responsible uses of forest biotechnology, and actively promotes science, dialogue and stewardship through their work.”
Strauss has done extensive genetic work with poplars, which include aspens and cottonwoods, as experimental organisms. These trees are leading candidates for woody biofuel crops being explored by the Department of Energy. He also directs OSU’s Program for Outreach in Resource Biotechnology, aimed at promoting public understanding of biotechnology issues.
Strauss has been an advocate for scientifically sound regulations for the use of genetically modified forest trees and other plants, based on a careful consideration of the modified traits, their value and safety, and not on a presumption of harm from the method alone used to create them.
“There are exciting advances being made by the Forest Biotechnology Partners that could give us new tools to combat the threats devastating our forests,” said Adam Costanza, president of the Institute of Forest Biotechnology. “Now more than ever we need healthy forests that can provide the ecosystem services we often take for granted while meeting society’s demand for sustainable forest products and renewable fuels. Dr. Strauss has been relentless in his pursuit to help trees thrive through responsible uses of biotechnology.”
Strauss has published more than 160 scholarly publications, delivered more than 170 invited lectures and obtained more than $16 million in research funding from the Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, forest industries, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies.