Thomas Jack Morris
Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
414 Manter Hall
We study plant viruses with a particular emphasis on understanding the molecular basis of virus-host interactions. We have been exploring mechanisms of host plant resistance in Arabidopsis to turnip crinkle virus (TCV) infection. The ability to manipulate both the viral pathogen and the host plant using molecular genetic and genomic tools makes our model system particularly suitable for examining molecular basis of plant innate immunity and the role of the silencing pathway in defense against viral infection. Research applications include the development of novel strategies for genetically engineering resistance against viral pathogens, and in the area of plant biotechnology, using RNA viruses as transient vectors for vaccine development against animal viruses.
I have also been actively involved in science education and outreach programs at UNL. This activity currently involves in a partnership with UNMC scientists on an NIH funded INBRE project focused on engaging undergraduates in biomedical and bioinformatics research. I have active interest in science education and was recently named a National Academies Education Fellow in Life Sciences for 2010-11.
Dr. T. Jack Morris is Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He has served as Director of the School of Biological Sciences from 1990 to 2005. He completed BS and MS degrees at McGill University in Canada and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at UNL in 1973. During his career at the University of California at Berkeley from 1976-90, he developed a internationally recognized program in molecular plant virology that produced many of the research leaders in the field. His research accomplishments include pioneering studies on the molecular biology of small RNA plant viruses that have resulted in fundamental advances on aspects of virus assembly, replication and virus-host interactions including the discovery of the first defective interfering RNA in plants. He is a charter member of the American Society of Virology and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Phytopathological Society. He was honored in 1995 as Nebraska’s Sigma Xi Scientist of the Year and in 2005 with the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society for outstanding career contributions to research. Dr. Morris has been actively involved in science education and outreach programs at UNL. This activity has involved him as a PI on two HHMI grants for Pre-College and Undergraduate Education (1992-98 - million). He has partnered leadership in a College-wide area of strength in Math/Science education and promoted the development of a science curriculum for education majors. Currently, he is involved in a partnership with UNMC scientists on an NIH funded INBRE project focused on engaging undergraduates in biomedical and bioinformatics research. He was recently named a National Academies Education Fellow in Life Sciences for 2010-11.
Xiuchun Zhang, Shirley Sato, Xiaohong Ye, Anne E. Dorrance, T. Jack Morris, Thomas E. Clemente, and Feng Qu. 2011. Strong resistance to simultaneous attacks of three viruses in soybean plants expressing separate short hairpins from a single transgene. (in press) Phytopathology.
Lisa M Pytlik Zillig, Alan J Tomkins, Peter Muhlberger, Rosevelt L. Pardy, Thomas Jack Morris, Yuris A. Dzenis, Joseph A. Turner, Timothy P. Collins. 2011. Using Public Engagements to Provide Input and Insights into Policy, Legal, Ethical, and Other Impacts of Science. The International Journal of Science in Society 2: 273- 290.
Cao, M., Ye, X., Willie K., Lin, J., Redinbaugh, M., Morris, TJ.,and Qu, F. 2010. The capsid protein of turnip crinkle virus overcomes two separate barriers to facilitate viral systemic movement in Arabidopsis. J Virology 84: 7793-7802.
Qu, F., Ye, X., and Morris, T.J. 2008. Arabidopsis DRB4, AGO1, and AGO7 participate in a DCL4-initiated antiviral RNA silencing pathway that is negatively regulated by DCL1. PNAS 105, 14732-14737 plus SI.