Robert R. Granados
Charles E. Palm Professor Emeritus
An entomologist/parasitologist by training, Bob Granados began his career by focusing on insect vectors of diseases of ornamental plants, but over time became intrigued with the viral diseases of insects themselves — what he calls “nature’s own way of controlling insect pests”. He investigated the nature of viral pathogenesis in the insect host and discovered a family of baculovirus genes termed enhancins, that assist the virus in the infection of insect pests. Over the course of his career he developed an impressive insect cell culture collection, which is of interest to many companies for production of microbial insecticides or pharmaceuticals for human and animal medical use. One cell line, known as High Five cells, developed by Granados has been extensively used commercially and is currently used to produce the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine, Cervarix. Granados is an active participant in ongoing cell culture research at BTI.
Holding over 40 patents, Granados is currently an intellectual property consultant for the Institute. Granados is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, and The Society for In Vitro Biology. He is also a member in the Academy of Microbiology and remains active with several societies including the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, and the Entomological Society of America.
Bob Kohut joined the Institute in 1980, performing field research on the responses of plants to changes in air quality. He conducted research assessing the effects of ozone on agricultural crops and the interactive effects of ozone and acid rain on red spruce at the Institute field site near campus. He had two research projects at remote locations: an assessment of the effects of oxides of nitrogen on tundra vegetation at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and a project to identify ozone-sensitive species and assess the impacts of ozone on plants at Acadia National Park in Maine. He served on the Institute’s management staff as the Director of Operations from 1991 to 1996.
Kohut retired at the end of 2004, but continues to serve on Institute committees. He recently performed an assessment of the risk of ozone injury to plants in 270 parks for the National Park Service. He also wrote a handbook for the Park Service on how to assess foliar ozone injury on plants in the field, and assisted in establishing ozone injury assessment programs in several national parks. He recently completed a five-year study of the effects of ozone on plants at Rocky Mountain National Park. The study provided the first documentation of ozone injury in the park, and the first report of ozone injury on native vegetation in the Rocky Mountain region. His findings raise the question of whether increasing levels of ambient ozone from spreading urbanization and oil and gas development in the Rocky Mountains are injuring sensitive species of plants elsewhere in the region. A peer-reviewed manuscript presenting the results of his research at Rocky Mountain National Park is currently in press.
Alan Renwick joined the Boyce Thompson Institute in 1960, when it was based in Yonkers. He continued working at BTI as he earned his M.S. in chemistry at City College, NY and his D.F. in forest entomology at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He was active in the Institute’s Forest Biology Program for many years before the move to Ithaca, where he began studying the interactions between plants and insects in an agricultural setting. Using various models, he has focused on insects that feed on members of the cabbage family. His work elucidating the chemicals that attract or deter insects may someday contribute to new approaches to the development of plants that produce less of the tasty chemicals or more of the nasty compounds that affect choice of plants by pests in the field.
After retiring in 2001, Renwick continued work supported by the National Science Foundation to use insects as models to understand the sense of taste. Renwick recently co-authored a book chapter on insect adaptation to changes in plant chemistry. He also regularly reviews papers in the field of chemical ecology. Alan is presently a consultant for the Insect Facility at BTI that is currently funded by DARPA in support of the Insect Cyborg Sentinels project.
Richard C. Staples
George L. McNew Professor Emeritus
Dick Staples joined BTI in 1950 as a graduate student in Plant Biochemistry at Columbia University. At BTI, he studied the development and cell biology of fungi, especially the obligately biotrophic rust fungi. His research involved the cloning of genes for the sensory perception of signals for mitosis and appressorium development. In the six years following his retirement in 1992, Dick worked with Harvey Hoch in the Department of Plant Pathology at Geneva, NY, where they studied the development of appressoria on substrates that trigger germling development. He was given the “Senior US Scientist Award” in 1982 by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Ruth Allen Award in 1994 from the American Phytopathological Society, and a Commendation from the Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, in 1999. Dick is a Receiving Editor for FEMS Microbiology Letters, writes invited commentary on science and, with Len Weinstein, has written a history of BTI, 1974-2000. He is a Fellow of the APS, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Cornell University.
Leonard H. Weinstein
William B. Thompson Professor Emeritus
Leonard Weinstein, William Boyce Thompson Scientist Emeritus at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Science, devoted writer, researcher and administrator, died of pneumonia at his home in White Plains, New York, on November 6, 2011. He was 85.
After two years as a staff sergeant in the US Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, he earned a BS degree from Penn State in Landscape Architecture, followed by an MS in Plant Pathology/Entomology from the University of Massachusetts and a PhD degree in Plant Physiology from Rutgers University. His formal education culminated with a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship at Rutgers, where he investigated the use of chelating agents in agriculture.
Len came to BTI in 1955 to work on a new project sponsored by a consortium of commercial rose growers. As he used a line of roses called “Better Times”, Len was known for years after as “Better Times Weinstein”. In his studies he found that rose petals contained extremely high concentrations of quinic acid, and the rose studies morphed into a study of the shikimic acid pathway in plants, studies supported by the Atomic Energy Commission and the National Science Foundation. During these same years, Len worked with Clark Porter on plant virus tumor metabolism, studies supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Len, a born juggler, also joined the fluoride project, a group then headed by Percy W. Zimmerman. After Zimmerman’s death and the retirement of A.E. Hichcock, Zimmerman’s long-time associate, Len became the project leader of a group that eventually became the Environmental Biology Program. Thus began many years of research on fluorides and plant growth and metabolism; indeed Len became an international authority on fluorides in plants.
Len was named Program Director of Environmental Biology in 1963, a position he held until his retirement. He was named the William Boyce Thompson Scientist in 1969, and in 1973, was elected to the Institute Board of Directors, a position held until 1992. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum from 1969-1992. At Cornell University, he was a adjunct professor in the department of Natural Resources, was Director of the Cornell Ecosystems Research Center for two years, and was a graduate advisor in the fields of Environmental Toxicology and Natural Resources from 1978 to 1992. He also served on the US Environmental Protection Agency Advisory Board, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Science Advisory Board, was a member of the joint Soviet-American Commission in the Field of Environmental Protection, and testified on environmental funding to both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for 6 years. In 1983 and 1985, he and his wife Sylvia were guests of the Chinese government where he presented lectures on environmental pollution throughout China.
Dr. Weinstein retired in 1992. Over his career he was the author or co-author of about 175 publications including two books, the most recent (2004) entitled “Fluorides in the Environment: Effects on Plants and Animals,” which was co-authored with Alan Davison. Len was a creative and imaginative scientist with a first-class mind. His was an extraordinary life.
H. Alan Wood
Alan Wood joined the Institute in 1968 as a plant virologist. During his early career he studied the physical and biological properties of plant and fungal viruses and then moved into the area of insect virology. His research played an important role in the study of the basic biology and molecular genetics of viruses. On August 9, 1989, in Geneva, New York, he conducted the first field release in the United States of a genetically-engineered virus. During this time he was a member of the USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Research Advisory Committee, chaired the Cornell University Recombinant DNA Committee and was given a Special Recognition Award from the U.S. Forest Service. Alan then researched methods to optimize the production of pharmaceutical proteins with insect viruses. He revisited his organic chemistry training and became a glycobiologist, defining the structures of N-linked sugars attached to glycoproteins produced in insect
cells. As a result of his patented discoveries in this area, he became a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of AgriVirion, a company that produced pharmaceutical proteins in insect larvae.
In 2001 Alan became the founding Director of the Life Sciences & Biotechnology Institute at Mississippi State University. He joined the Boards of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council and the University and Industry Consortium. He was a member of the congressionally-mandated USDA Research, Education and Economics Task Force that developed the framework for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.