ARS research links
Agricultural Research magazine
Dr. Katrina Cornish, Ph.D., FAAAS, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England with a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Biological Sciences (1978) and a Ph.D. in Plant Biology (1982). She leads the USDA, Agricultural Research Service’s effort on domestic natural rubber production, based at the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California.
Her broad-biobased research program on rubber biochemistry, molecular biology, immunochemistry, chemistry, polymer chemistry, processing, and bio-based product development is aimed towards the biotechnological development of plant species suitable for commercially-viable cultivation for rubber production in the temperate climate of the United States.
Her research has led to the only natural rubber solution to life-threatening Type I latex allergy, a worldwide public health problem; the commercial introduction of a new, environmentally-friendly rubber-producing crop and associated processing industry to the recession-affected southwestern US; a new understanding of rubber biosynthesis in plants; and to much needed biodiversification of global natural rubber production.
She is the sole inventor of process and product patents to produce hypoallergenic natural rubber latex and products from guayule and other non-Brazilian Rubber Tree species, has several biotechnology patents in preparation, and has 85 publications (excluding abstracts), 63 related to rubber biosynthesis and production.
Her current collaborative research efforts include biotechnological improvement of guayule latex yield, development of new latex products, development of sunflower and possibly tobacco as annual rubber-producing crops, and the development of bioreactors for novel polymer production.
She has leveraged her research efforts by setting-up numerous collaborations with academic, government and industrial partners both nationally and internationally, and gained support from competitive USDA and NSF granting agencies.
The significance of Dr. Cornish’s research and outreach efforts, is illustrated by her recognition as an Agricultural Research Service Outstanding Senior Research Scientist of the Year, 1998; a Diploma of Recognition from La Universidad Autónoma Agraria "Antonio Narro", Saltillo, Mexico,1997; a USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence, 2002; an American Chemical Society Presidential Award, 2002; and her election as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2002.