Born in Michigan, and raised in Arkansas, Steve received his Ph.D. from Duke University
in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry He spent 21 years in weed management-oriented
research at Stoneville, Mississippi with ARS, where he served as Research Leader of the Southern
Weed Science Laboratory during his last nine years there. Currently, he is Research Leader
of the Natural Product Utilization Research Unit located at the National Center for Natural
Products Research on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
earlier research focused on weed physiology and herbicides, his recent activities have
expanded to include all chemicals associated with pest management, with emphasis on
His research teams have discovered the molecular target sites of several natural and
synthetic phytotoxins and herbicides. An example of this work is his laboratory's
research that led the way in determining the mode of action of protoporphyrinogen
oxidase-inhibiting herbicides. Steve found the unique and complicated mechanism
by which this category of herbicides cause the toxic product of the inhibited enzyme to
accumulate. With computational chemistry, these herbicides were shown to be structural
analogues of one half of the protoporphyrinogen IX molecule. This work has led to a
better understanding of the porphyrin pathway. His research is documented in more than
250 peer-reviewed publications and six co-written and edited books.
Current activities include development of gene expression profiling of natural fungicides
and herbicides as a tool in determining and probing modes of action. Also, examination
of the molecular biology of crop allelopathy is underway with the goal to ultimately produce
crops that will fight weeds with natural phytotoxins.
Steve has been very active in professional organizations, editorial boards of journals,
and grant review panels. He was President of the Weed Science Society of America and is
now President of the International Weed Science Society. He is a fellow of AAAS and the
Weed Sci. Soc. Amer., winner of the Molisch Award (International Allelopathy Society), and
recipient of an Outstanding Senior Scientist Award of ARS. He played a key role when
ARS established its Office of Scientific Quality Review (OSQR) in 1999, being instrumental
in developing OSQR policies and procedures and serving as the first Scientific Quality Review Officer.
Some side information - Steve's graduate training was interrupted by two years in
the U.S. Army, one of which was spent as a Medical Service Corps officer in Vietnam. He has a
twin brother, Dr. Stanley H. Duke, who is Professor and Chair of the Department of Agronomy
at the University of Wisconsin.