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He received his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1974 and his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Washington in 1980. After earning his Ph.D., he served as a postdoctoral fellow from 1980 through 1981 on a joint project between Washington University, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. From 1981 to 1983 he was a research scientist at the International Plant Research Institute.
In 1983, Bennetzen became an Assistant Professor at Purdue University and eventually became a full Professor in 1991 and H. Edwin Umbarger Distinguished Professor of Genetics in 1999. After two decades at Purdue, he joined the faculty at UGA in 2003 as a Professor of Genetics and Norman Giles Eminent Scholar Chair in Molecular Biology and Functional Genomics. He was interim Head of the Department of Genetics at UGA from 2009-2011. He is also a member of UGA's interdisciplinary Institute of Bioinformatics. He founded the Maize Genetics Executive Committee (2000) and the McClintock Prize (2014). Since 2012, he has been a 1000 Talents Professor in the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the Kunming Institute of Botany.
Bennetzen's research interests include plant genome structure/evolution and gene function relationships, genetic diversity in under-utilized crops of the developing world, rapid evolution of complex disease resistance loci in plants, fine structure recombinational analysis, and the coevolution of plant/microbe and plant/parasite interactions.
Education and honors
- Bachelor of Arts, Biology, University of California, San Diego, 1974
- Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Washington, 1980
- Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2004
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Professorship, University of Hyderabad, 2002
- Umbarger Endowed Professorship in Genetics, 1999
- Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, 1995
- Fulbright Awards, 1990 & 2008.
- Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation, 1986.
- McKnight Foundation Award in Plant Biology, 1986.
- Co-editor; The Plant Cell (1996-2003), Current Opinion in Plant Biology (1998-Present)
- Guggenheim Fellowship, 2008
- UGA Genetics Department Biography
- UGA professor Jeffrey Bennetzen named to National Academy of Sciences, Scienceblog.com, April 2004
- Bennetzen Research Group website
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