Research Interests

As a plant biochemist, I have been intrigued for many years by how plants elaborate such a staggering variety of natural products. Recent advances in genomics provide the blueprint for this remarkable ability, but assigning functions to the multitude of genes involved in natural product biosynthesis requires an integrated combination of chemistry, biochemistry, genomics and genetics. Putting these pieces together has introduced me to new disciplines and, more importantly, to interesting new people who bring new perspectives to a problem I could only partly comprehend as a young faculty member starting my career at the University of London. Using the above multidisciplinary approaches, my group has helped decipher the biochemical pathways leading to flavonoids, isoflavonoids, proanthocyanidins and lignin. A second and more recently realized passion has been in the application of basic discoveries in the field of plant secondary metabolism to agricultural enhancement and the dietary prevention of human diseases through metabolic engineering. I am hopeful that work I started more than 20 years ago on the biosynthesis of lignin and flavonoids will soon lead to development of more nutritious forages, dedicated bioenergy crops, and plants or plant derived-products that provide long term protection against chronic disease.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology