Gary F. Peter, Ph.D.

Professor of Forest Resources and Conservation

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

2015 Awardee

Gary Peter is an expert in forest biotechnology, genetics, wood properties, and wood utilization. His research program addresses both the fundamental aspects of the genetic and environmental regulation of tree growth, wood development, as well as the applied aspects of breeding and wood utilization for biomaterials, bioenergy, and biofuels.

Peter has extensive experience developing methods for clonal propagation of elite southern pine germplasm, and economic analyses of the value of forest biotechnology. To address fundamental and applied objectives, much of his research is interdisciplinary and conducted with multidisciplinary teams composed of biologists, chemists, chemical and mechanical engineers, economists, physicists, and statisticians.

Peter co-directs University of Florida’s Cooperative Forest Genetics Research Program and Forest Biology Research Cooperatives that involve 11 UF scientists and 20 industry scientists who help manage approximately 15 million acres of planted southern pines. He serves on the leadership team for PINEMAP, a $20 million National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded coordinated agricultural project.

Peter is developing and applying advancements in genomics to his research in southern pines. His pioneering work with novel approaches for separating additive from non-additive genetic effects offers new insights into a longstanding and fundamental problem in quantitative genetics, and is at the forefront of creating a new paradigm for plant breeding. His work to develop pine trees with higher capacity for terpene synthesis and storage aims to dramatically reduce the costs of renewable chemicals and biofuels. He has developed cost effective tree tapping methods that can be used today, with the goal of reinvigorating collection of terpenes from live trees.