The major focus of the chestnut research at UTC is the restoration of Castanea dentata to its former position as a component of the southern Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem. The return of the American chestnut requires a multidisciplinary effort. Since 1996, the project has been actively engaged in all aspects of this major restoration attempt, including research on biological control of the chestnut blight disease and the study of restoration ecology. The objective of the UTC chestnut breeding program, in affiliation with The American Chestnut Foundation and other partners, is to select locally adapted, genetically diverse blight-resistant chestnuts trees. We plan to reintroduce the trees into the forest in an ecologically acceptable manner. The project began large-scale testing, using truly blight-resistant American-type trees, in 2009. Recent advances in plant pathology and molecular biology, especially new recombinant DNA technologies, allow us to confidently predict a successful outcome for our endeavor. We maintain an archive of folklore, historical, artistic and scientific material on American chestnut that is open to scholars and researchers. We strive to educate the general public and hope to contribute to scientific knowledge by conducting research, fostering science-based learning and sharing among disciplines. The project currently supports graduate research assistants and provides opportunities for undergraduate research as well. The Chattanooga Chestnut Project is supported in part by the Summerfield Johnston Endowment for the Restoration of the American Chestnut and by the Robert M. Davenport Professorship of Biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Dr. James Hill Craddock is the UC Foundation Davenport Professor in Biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science. He grew up in Woods Hole Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, son of a Marine Biologist father and an Emergency Room Nurse mother and went to sea for the first time at age 16, working summers on commercial fishing boats. He grew his first chestnut tree from a seed he planted at age 15 and he is still a chestnut enthusiast. He moved to Italy in 1987 where he and his wife Paola helped run her family’s restaurant business. They moved with their son Emilio to Tennessee in November of 1994.
Dr. Craddock completed doctoral and postdoctoral research on hazelnut and chestnut biology at the Universita’ di Torino in Turin, Italy before conducting postdoctoral research on anthracnose-resistant dogwood cultivars at the Tennessee State University/USDA-ARS Nursery Crops Research Station in McMinnville, TN. He holds a master’s degree in Horticulture from Oregon State University, in Corvallis, OR, and a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Biology (double major) from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
This event is free following admission into the Garden.
Date: July 21, 6 p.m. EST
Location: Mershon Hall