James A. Birchler is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia. After obtaining a B. S. degree from Eastern Illinois University in botany and zoology in 1972, he attended graduate school at Indiana University majoring in genetics with a minor in biochemistry. The Ph. D. was awarded in 1977. Postdoctoral work was performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley. Appointments as assistant and associate professor followed at Harvard University beginning in 1985 in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Birchler joined the faculty at the University of Missouri in 1991. Birchler has served on the editorial boards of Genetics, The Plant Cell, BioMed Central Plant Biology, Tropical Plant Biology, Genomic Insights, Journal of Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biotechnology, GM Crops, Maydica, Annual Reviews of Plant Biology and Annual Reviews of Genetics. Birchler has been an elected member of the Maize Genetics Executive Committee and the Council of the American Genetics Association. He was the 2017 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Professor of the Year and the recipient of the 2020 Barbara McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genomics. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Einstein Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the St. Louis Academy of Science, the American Society of Plant Biologists, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Research Interests

Research interests of his laboratory include structure and behavior of chromosomes, centromere epigenetics, heterosis, polyploidy and aneuploidy using maize as the model organism. Studies in Drosophila focus on gene silencing and dosage compensation. Artificial/synthetic chromosome platforms in maize have been developed. In general, the laboratory is interested in the consequences of dosage sensitive gene regulatory mechanisms in multicellular eukaryotes and their implications for the phenotype, gene expression, and evolutionary processes.

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Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics