RIVERSIDE, Calif. Norman Ellstrand, a professor of genetics in UC Riverside's Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, has been elected as one of this year's four Botanical Society of America (BSA) Merit Award recipients.
The BSA Merit Award is the society's highest honor, granted for "outstanding contributions to botanical science," recognizing truly exceptional scientists in plant biology. Some past Merit Award recipients have won the Nobel Prize, National Medal of Science or election to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
Ellstrand joined the UCR faculty in 1979 following a year's postdoctoral stint at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1978. His varied awards range from a Fulbright Fellowship to Sweden in 1993 to being named a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000.
Ellstrand studies plant population genetics and is one of the country's foremost experts on plant gene flow, the movement of genes from one organism to another. His research has involved the study of the possibility of escape of genes from genetically engineered crops into their wild relatives as well as the potential consequences of that escape.
His work has shown that crops can mate with their wild relatives at rates and distances much higher than previously supposed. He also has shown that the hybrids are often more fit than suspected, suggesting that once transgenes occur in hybrids they will spread readily. Ellstrand has warned that if transgenes confer an advantage to a weed, such as herbicide resistance, that weed will become more difficult to control.
His recent research has come to focus on the evolution of invasiveness in plants. He was among the first to suggest that invasive species could evo
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University of California - Riverside