Michigan Tech Poplar Research Ranked World-Class

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Poplars are common, fast-growing trees that show promise as the basis for biofuels and as living vacuum cleaners that could suck excess carbon dioxide out of the air we breathe.

More than half a dozen researchers at Michigan Technological University conduct poplar research, many of them in Michigan Tech’s Biotechnology Research Center and Ecosystem Science Center. Their work—and that of numerous graduate students—has earned the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science 11th place among the top 20 institutions publishing papers on poplar research worldwide.

In a special issue on poplar research in Canada, published by the Canadian Journal of Botany, universities and other research institutions around the world were ranked according to the number of poplar research papers their scientists published in peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1990 and mid-2007.

Logging 436 published scientific papers during that time, the U.S. Forest Services topped the list. The University of Alberta in Canada ranked second with 356 poplar papers published.

Michigan Tech researchers published 158 poplar papers, earning the University 11th place, ahead of 12th-ranked Michigan State University. Michigan Tech and Michigan State were the only Michigan universities in the top 20.

Michigan Tech poplar researchers included Andrew Burton, Victor Busov, Scott Harding, Chandrashekhar Joshi, David Karnosky, Dana Richter and Chung-Jui Tsai with Karnosky publishing more than 60 papers since he came to Michigan Tech in 1983. Tsai, Joshi, Busov and one of Tech’s former graduate students co-authored a cover story in the internationally respected journal Science in 2006, reporting the first complete DNA sequence of a tree. The four-year, multi-institution study sequenced the entire genome of a poplar known as Populus trichocarpa, commonly called black cottonwood.

Michigan Technological University is a leading public research university, conducting research, developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences, computer sciences, technology, business and economics, natural and physical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.