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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

John J. Beck

Research Chemist

John Beck is a research chemist with a B.Sc. (chemistry) from the University of California, Riverside and a Ph.D. (organic/natural products chemistry) from Colorado State University. Professional memberships include the American Chemical Society (ACS) division of agrochemicals (AGRO) and division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (AGFD), the Entomological Society of America (ESA) Plant-Insect Ecosystems section, and the International Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE). Prior to joining the Western Regional Research Center as a career employee in 2006, Dr. Beck was an Associate Professor of Chemistry. Early research interests included chemical processes that mimicked biological reactions and structure-activity relationship studies of the dihydrophthalide, (Z)-ligustilide. While his formal training was in organic chemistry and the isolation, characterization, and bioassay of natural products from terrestrial sources, his research now focuses on plant volatiles and their role as semiochemicals, particularly attractants for the California insect pest, navel orangeworm. His current research utilizes electrophysiological (electroantennographic) and behavioral responses of navel orangeworm to select compounds or blends. Additional research interests include volatiles as early-warning signals of fungal contamination. As part of the USDA-ARS mission and the goals of his laboratory, Dr. Beck maintains collaborative research with external stakeholders, academia, and the State of California  - Wonderful Orchards; the California Pistachio Research Board (CPRB); the Almond Board of California (ABC); UC Davis Department of Entomology and Section of Evolution and Ecology (Karban Lab); UC Riverside Department of Entomology (Cardé Lab), and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Professional service includes Associate Adjunct Professor of Environmental Toxicology (ETOX) at UC Davis, serving on the Executive Committee for the AGRO Division of ACS, Associate Editor of Phytochemical Analysis (PCA), and a member of the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Food and Agricultural Chemistry (JAFC) and Phytochemistry Letters (PCL). Critical vices of the Fungal Communication & Semiochemical Research Laboratory include high quality coffee and doughnuts during group meetings.


Publications – Peer-reviewed 

Research Team

Beck research personnel

Left to right, FTDP Beck Volatile Research Laboratory personnel: Janice Wondolleck, Biological Science Lab Technician; Noreen Mahoney, Chemist; James Horstman, Biological Science Technician; Wai Gee, Biological Science Lab Technician; John Beck; and, Enrico Pezzola (UC Davis Community Ecology and International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, Italy).

Last Modified: 10/21/2015
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