NC State Prof Wins International Forestry Prize

Mar 21, 2017

A recently retired North Carolina State University professor capped his career with a prestigious international award.

Dr. Ron Sederoff has been awarded the Marcus Wallenberg Prize for his work on the molecular genetics of trees. The award is known as the Nobel prize of forestry.

Sederoff has been a professor at N.C. State since 1987. He founded the university's forest biotechnology research group.

"I came to set up this program because North Carolina State University was probably the best place in the world to set up such a program, because of its long history of work on trees," Sederoff said. He added that the program has attracted students and scientists from 15 countries around the world.

One of the group's major achievements has been accelerating the breeding cycles of pine trees. Their methods help tree breeders make better predictions based on their trees' DNA. This is especially relevant to the economy of North Carolina, where timber is a major industry.

"We work in a situation where the life span of the trees and the life span of the scientists are about the same. Being able to speed up the cycle of breeding and predict things in advance makes a big difference," Sederoff said.

Sederoff will accept his award from the King of Sweden in a ceremony in October. The honor includes a cash prize worth $226,000. Sederoff is the third scholar with ties to N.C. State to be awarded the prize in its history.

Colleagues surprised Sederoff with the news of his win at a party to celebrate his February retirement.

"I have a feeling that I may have some extra work to do now, because of this. It's an embarrassment of riches," Sederoff said.