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NC State’s Sederoff Honored for Molecular Genetics Work With Forest Trees

NC State forestry professor Ron Sederoff, winner of the 2017 Marcus Wallenberg Prize. Photo by Mitchell Costa.

For Immediate Release

Ron Sederoff, an NC State forestry professor and pioneering molecular geneticist, has won the 2017 Marcus Wallenberg Foundation Prize, an international award for scientific achievements in fields important to forestry.

The Wallenberg Prize is awarded annually to one scientist or team of scientists whose achievements broaden forestry knowledge and advance technical developments in related fields. The King of Sweden will present Sederoff with the award, which includes a cash prize of 2 million Swedish kronor, during a ceremony in Stockholm in October.

Sederoff, one of the first scientists to study molecular genetics of forest trees, established the Forest Biotechnology Group at NC State in 1988. His work focuses on gaining a better understanding of forest tree biology and using that knowledge to accelerate tree breeding. The selection committee honored Sederoff for “breakthroughs in developing methods for gene discovery in conifer species and exploiting new breeding technologies for improved properties.”

Over the last 30 years, researchers with NC State’s Forest Biotechnology Group have studied the genetic basis for tree traits such as disease resistance, growth and quality. Scientists with the group have worked to sequence pine and American chestnut genomes. The team has studied the molecular basis for wood structure, investigating the biochemical and genetic basis of cell wall formation. Their focus is on the pathway for biosynthesis of lignin and cell wall structural proteins. The team’s purpose is to promote innovation in basic science and apply new discoveries and technology to practical problems in forest trees.

Sederoff is a Distinguished University Professor of Forestry, Edwin F. Conger Professor of Forestry and Environmental Resources, and co-director of the Forest Biotechnology Group with colleague Vincent Chiang. In 1995, Sederoff was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He is an inventor on multiple U.S. patents and was honored as the Institute of Forest Biotechnology’s 2011 Forest Biotechnologist of the Year.

Sederoff is 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.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology, and master’s and doctoral degrees in zoology (genetics), all from the University of California, Los Angeles. He completed an early career postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Geneva, Switzerland, followed by faculty positions at Columbia University, the University of Oregon and the genetics department at NC State University. After a stint as a U.S. Forest Service scientist in California, he joined NC State’s forestry and environmental resources department in 1987.

A native of Montreal, Canada, Sederoff is married to NC State professor Heike Winter Sederoff and has three children.

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  1. Hi Ron, this is Chao. Congratulations on the big honor, very proud of you. I have retired, too, from the government service at the end of 2017. I also have left the frozen Northern Plains and came back to the RTP area recently. Would like to stop by and catch up things with you sometime. Take care.

  2. Congratulations Ron! The Wallenberg Prize is a marvelous and well-deserved award. I am very happy for you. I am hoping to be able to attend Chancellor Woodson’s Reception for you.

  3. Congratulations Ron! So you’re finally retiring?? Hard to believe! Please stop by and visit of you happen to get out to the Bay Area. (I have not yet retired – but am doing law now, not biology.)

  4. Congratulation Ron! You have led, inspired and sustained generations of students. For this also you deserve full recognition. All the best for your retirement.

  5. Well deserved honour, Ron. Congratulations, and all the best in your retirement !

  6. So happy to hear this. One of my happiest memories is of our celebration in Sweden, and now you will have that, too. Great work, and a great honor!

  7. Much deserved congratulations,Ron. So sorry to have missed your retirement party which I had reserved the time to attend but slipped up on it. What a loss for me not to have joined in the celebrations with you. Would like to know what you plan on doing in your retirement.

    1. Hi Eric
      Of course Ron came much after me. You maybe do not remember me (from Queensland). I am pleased to see you are still going – I am >80 myself. I called in at NC State with richard Usanis in 1999 but that will probably be my last visit. I see kevin Harding & Glenn dale and of course Garth Nikles from time to time.
      Dick Pegg – Raleigh 1963-65

    2. Congratulations Eric! Getting Ron to come to state was one of your best decisions and Ron proved it.

  8. Ron:Congratulations and welcome to the Happy Retirement Club!
    This is Jason Shih at the airport, waiting for a flight to China. This piece of good news help pass the boring time. Cheers, Jason