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Zhuo (Adam) Chen, PhD, MS, MMgt is an Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, and Li Dak Sum Chair Professor in Health Economics, University of Nottingham, Ningbo China. Dr. Chen received his B.S. (1996) and M.Mgt (1999) in Management Science from the University of Science and Technology of China; MS in Statistics (2002) and PhD in Economics (2004) from Iowa State University. Before joining CDC, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Health and Social Sciences, The University of Chicago. He held part-time teaching appointment at Georgia Institute of Technology School of Economics in 2007-2008. His research interests include health economics, economics of obesity, applied econometrics, and China’s agriculture. He has published three book chapters and more than 40 articles in peer reviewed journals including Social Science & Medicine, Health Economics, Journal of Health Economics, and American Journal of Agricultural Economics. He received the 2013 CDC Excellence in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Award and the 2016 Federal Asian Pacific American Council Civilian Award in Diversity Excellence. He was elected as the President (2014-2016) of the Association of Asian/Pacific Islander Employees of CDC/ATSDR in June 2014. In 2007-2008 and 2012-2013, Dr. Chen was twice elected as a Board Director for the Chinese Economist Society (CES). He participated in organizing two CES conferences in China (March 2008, June 2013) and the CES annual business meeting, and took lead in managing the Chow Best Paper Award (2008) and the CES-Chow Short-term Teaching Program (2013).
(see www.computational-plant-science.org for the most up to date information) I am Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia at Athens, joint between the Department of Plant Biology, the Institute of Bioinformatics and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. My expertise falls within computational plant sciences. I address questions in the area of plant growth and shape formation in formal and applied settings. In so doing, I have developed novel methods such as a robust skeletonization for laser scanner obtained point clouds to describe and compute the shapes of trees on various spatial scales. I apply these methods to link geometric measures in tree crowns to physiological models or analyze the phenotypic variation of root architecture under field conditions. In particular my work on describing root architecture was highlighted on the cover page of Plant Physiology and in national press articles. In addition, I work on growth simulations of organic branching structures to yield insight into the formation of branches. For example I formalized the characteristics resulting from the lateral expansion of a growing random walk to show that expansion during elongating growth processes lead to a straighter shape. Thus, geometric relations play an as vital role in the formation of organic shapes in concert with the environment and endogenous processes. My methods have been developed and validated in close collaboration with experimentalists to resolve challenges in plant biotechnology and food security, e.g., by investigating the relationship between crop plant genotype and phenotype. My projects are united by my interest in developing novel methods towards a measurable understanding of plant formation and structure, below- and above-ground.
As long ago as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the biological world and the mysteries of how it works. As I grew up it became clear that my curiosity could only be satisfied by becoming a scientist. In spite of side trips working with my hands as a tradesman and following my other passion, music, my path has always arced back to science; eventually, resistance was futile. While my academic pursuits began at N.C. State University, my first success was my degree in Biotechnology from Alamance Community College in 1991. This was followed by a year working in the water and wastewater treatment facilities of Burlington NC. Next, I completed a B.S. in Biology from East Carolina University in 1993. This was followed by two years as a Research Technician at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where I worked with Dr. Lola Stamm on the Syphilis spirochete, Treponema pallidum. At this point I chose to continue work in microbiology because I recognized that drug resistance in bacteria would soon become a huge challenge for medicine and human health. In 1995 I joined Dr. Frank Gherardini’s lab in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia. Here I studied regulation of gene expression and antibiotic resistance in Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease. I received my Ph.D. in 2000 and moved to San Diego, CA, for postdoctoral training with Dr. Michael McClelland, who was a pioneer in the new field of genomics and was finishing the first Salmonella whole genome sequence. There I worked with a team of scientists developing microarray technology to study Salmonella enterica gene expression, gene content, and evolution. This work was technically challenging, exciting, and highly productive. In 2003, I was hired by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service, in Athens Georgia as a Research Microbiologist to study antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella associated with food animals. Salmonella is one of the most prevalent foodborne pathogens globally and is estimated to cause over one million infections in the U.S. each year. Antimicrobial resistance is also common in Salmonella and has been an increasing problem over the past few decades. My research at USDA strives to understand antibiotic resistance, pathogenicity, and the evolution of Salmonella. Over the past 15 years we’ve isolated ~100,000 Salmonella from U.S. food-animals, farms, processing plants, and retail meats and determined their serotypes, genotypes, and antimicrobial resistances. We used custom microarrays and high-throughput sequencing to understand the genetics causing the spread of resistance and the development of multidrug resistance (MDR). Our work identified the antimicrobial resistance genes and mobile genetic elements that are responsible for their transmission in Salmonella. We’ve completed several collaborative studies with scientist at CDC, FDA, and Canada that have determine the genetics causing MDR in Salmonella isolated from animals, retail meats, and human infections. Recently we joined scientists at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Washington St. Louis to sequence whole Salmonella genomes. We have sequenced the whole genomes of approximately 200 isolates representative of the diversity of serotypes, antimicrobial resistances, and animal sources in our collection. Analyses of the data give us insights into the genetics of antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella and how it has evolved. We have begun investigating the environmental factors on-farm and during processing that select for the development of resistance in Salmonella or that enable Salmonella to contaminate food. Our long term goal is to modify practices or devise interventions that will reduce the development of resistance in Salmonella or prevent Salmonella from contaminating food and posing a risk to human health. My team and our collaborators accomplishments have improved our understanding of the genetics behind the biology of Salmonella and antibiotic resistance. Our investigations also led to the adaptation of methods like DNA microarrays and genome sequencing to achieve our goals, as well as the development of specific assays to address diagnostic needs. One of these is our automated, high-throughput technique to identify Salmonella serotypes (SMART: Salmonella multiplex assay for rapid typing). This assay is more accurate, easier, quicker, and cheaper than traditional serotyping. SMART has been employed by a number of labs worldwide to improve Salmonella serotyping. These achievements have allowed me to author or co-author over 80 peer reviewed publications, book chapters, and review articles. We have also obtained intramural and extramural funding to allow the expansion of our investigations and to develop new collaborations. As the beneficiary of the generous training from my many mentors, I understand the need to pay that gift forward. To help achieve this, I am an adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia, and I have trained many undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdocs, and mentored several graduate students during their MS or Ph.D. studies. I enjoy accepting graduate students into my lab for training and supporting them in completing their research thesis or dissertation. I’m looking forward to the next decade of research and plan to apply cutting edge methodologies of investigation to address the challenges to food safety and public health posed by antimicrobial resistance and Salmonella. My lifelong passion to investigate the mysteries of life has given me an enjoyable and challenging career and has filled my life with fabulous coworkers and collaborators.