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UMF faculty member to be featured speaker at international biosciences conference in Nepal

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FARMINGTON Chris Brinegar, adjunct associate professor in the University of Maine at Farmington Division of Natural Sciences, has been invited to be the keynote speaker for the Biodiversity & Natural Products session of the International Conference on Biosciences and Biotechnology held in Kathmandu, Nepal, Feb. 4-6.

Brinegar's research specialty is plant phylogeography, the study of the geographic distribution of genetic lineages in plant populations. The genetic data resulting from this research can shed light on plant species evolution, assess biodiversity and help identify populations in need of conservation.

His talk will summarize his genetics research on Cinchona officinalis that he conducted during a recent Fulbright fellowship in Ecuador. Tree species in the genus Cinchona are a rich source of quinine, an anti-malarial drug, and were among the first plants in the New World to suffer from overexploitation after Spanish colonization. Brinegar's lecture will also describe how genetic studies can guide conservation approaches for threatened and endangered plant species which produce commercially important natural products.

Brinegar has taught ecology, environmental science and biochemistry at UMF since 2006. He has twice been named a Fulbright Scholar to pursue his teaching and research: in the Biotechnology Department at Kathmandu University in Nepal in 2008 and at the Technical University of Loja in the Andes Mountains of southern Ecuador in 2014.

He received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, M.S. in food chemistry from Cornell University, and Ph.D. in agronomy from the University of Wisconsin. Following post-doctoral training in plant molecular biology at the Plant Cell Research Institute in California, he joined the faculty of the Biology Department at San Jose State University in 1987, where he taught molecular biology, cell biology, botany and evolution. His research there focused on the population genetics of coastal and forest plants of northern California, including coast redwoods.

The ICBB conference organizing partners include the Asian Federation of Biotechnology, The World Academy of Sciences and the Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology.

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