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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Cornish Appointed as Endowed Chair in Bio-based Materials at OARDC

September 7, 2010

• Position is part of Ohio Research Scholars Program

WOOSTER, Ohio — Katrina Cornish, an internationally recognized expert on alternative natural rubber, has been selected as Endowed Chair in Bio-based Emergent Materials at Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Cornish will hold a joint appointment with the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. She will be based on the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) — which is the research arm of CFAES and the largest university agricultural bioscience research facility in the United States.

“Katrina Cornish will intensify OARDC’s role as an economic engine for Ohio, particularly in the realm of the agricultural biosciences,” said Bobby D. Moser, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “Her experience and research background make her a perfect fit for leading and accelerating our work in bio-based emergent materials.”

The Endowed Chair in Bio-based Emergent Materials is one of several positions funded by the Ohio Research Scholars Program (ORSP) — an effort created by the state of the Ohio to promote collaborations between public and private universities and industry partners throughout the state to build and sustain commercially promising lines of research. This position is part of an ORSP research cluster on technology-enabling and emergent materials that brings together Ohio State, the University of Akron and the University of Dayton.

In her new position, Cornish will lead a multidisciplinary team in the creation of innovative industrial materials from plant-based sources and associated biological, chemical and physical processes. She will also be charged with training new scientists and engineers for the emerging global bio-based economy.

“This position is vital to push the boundaries of bio-based materials research and create the interdisciplinary connections from which new scientific advances and bio-based technologies of the future can be achieved,” said Steven Ringel, Neal A. Smith Endowed Chair in electrical engineering and director of Ohio State’s Institute for Materials Research, who is the principal investigator for this multi-university ORSP initiative. “Dr. Cornish’s interdisciplinary background, along with her experience both as a world-leading scientist and successful entrepreneur, make her the ideal Ohio Research Scholar. We are looking forward to strengthening even further the connections between OARDC and OSU’s main campus, as well as with the University of Akron and the University of Dayton.”

Before joining OARDC, Cornish served as senior vice president of research and development for Yulex — a company founded to commercialize the technology she developed while working for 15 years in the area of domestic rubber crop development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yulex commercializes rubber and other industrial products made from guayule, a plant native to the southwestern United States.

The author of 145 scientific articles and patents, Cornish has also provided leadership for the development of new crop varieties, processing innovations, industrial and regulatory regulations and standards, clinical trials, and the creation of novel materials from hypoallergenic medical devices to termite-resistant building materials to biofuels. She has overseen several extramural research agreements with academia and the federal government in the United States, the European Union, Australia and southeast Asia.

Among many awards, Cornish has won Outstanding Researcher of the Year, Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops, 2008; the Connect 2005 Most Innovative New Product Award in the Category Life Sciences, Medical Devices and Diagnostics; Good Housekeeping Award for Women in Government, 2004; and the American Chemical Society Presidential Award, 2002.

A native of Beccles, England, Cornish holds a Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of Birmingham.

More information about ORSP can be found at


Mauricio Espinoza
Bobby Moser