Chris Brinegar is a conservation geneticist with primary interests in the biodiversity and phylogeography of forest plants. His projects have focused on plant species of northern California, including a range wide genetic study of the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), and most recently on threatened tree species of southern Ecuador. After completion of degrees from the universities of Notre Dame, Cornell and Wisconsin, he moved to California for a post-doctoral position in molecular biology at the Plant Cell Research Institute before accepting a faculty position at San José State University (SJSU) in 1987. In his 20-year career at SJSU, Brinegar directed the Conservation Genetics Laboratory and the Biotechnology Education & Research Institute.
After retiring from SJSU, Brinegar accepted an adjunct position in the Division of Natural Sciences at the University of Maine Farmington where he teaches ecology and biochemistry. He was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Nepal in 2008 where he taught at Kathmandu University and collaborated on plant genetics projects. Brinegar received a second Fulbright fellowship in 2014-15 at the Technical University of Loja in Ecuador where he taught conservation genetics and conducted genetics research on remnant populations of the quinine tree (Cinchona officinalis) and wild highland papaya (Vasconcellea stipulata). Brinegar and his wife Bonnie live happily in the maple-birch-pine forests of western Maine.
- Ph.D. (1983), Agronomy & Crop Physiology (Biochemistry minor), U.Wisconsin-Madison
- M.S. (1979), Food Chemistry (Biochemistry minor), Cornell University
- B.S. (1977), Chemistry, University of Notre Dame
2006-present, Instructor and Adjunct Associate Professor (semi-retired), Division of Natural Sciences, University of Maine Farmington
- Part-time instructor in Ecology, Environmental Science and Biochemistry
- Research on population and evolutionary genetics of coast redwoods and plants of the north coast of California; population genetics of threatened tree species of Ecuador
- Project consultant on DNA barcoding of Nepali medicinal and agricultural plants
1997-2006, Professor and Director, Conservation Genetics Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, San José State University, San José, CA
- Taught Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, and Evolutionary Biology
- Population genetics of spotted owl, tidewater goby, steelhead trout and coast redwood
- Molecular taxonomy and phylogeography of Chorizanthe (spineflower)
1995-2001, Director, Biotechnology Education and Research Institute (BERI), College of Science, San José State University
- Promoted biotechnology-related curricula and research at SJSU
- Managed the SJSU Biotechnology Short Course Program
- Coordinated equipment purchases, new technical positions, and laboratory renovation
1992-97, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, San José State University
- Genetic transformation of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)
- Modification of the biolistic method of plant genetic transformation
1987-92, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, San José State University
- Photoaffinity labeling of cytokinin receptors in plants
- Characterization of seed storage proteins of quinoa
1983-87, Post-doctoral Research Associate, ARCO Plant Cell Research Institute, Dublin, CA
- Characterization of a wheat cytokinin-binding (CB) protein
- Affinity labeling and characterization of the cytokinin binding site
- Cloning and sequencing of the CB protein’s cDNA
Fellowships and Visiting Positions
2014-2015, Senior Fulbright Scholar, Department of Natural Sciences, Technical University of Loja, Loja, Ecuador
- Taught conservation genetics and general genetics
- Research on population and evolutionary genetics of threatened tree species in Ecuador (Cinchona officinalis and Vasconcellea stipulata)
2008-2009, Senior Fulbright Scholar, Biotechnology Department, Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Nepal
- Taught genetics, molecular biology and biotechnology
- Advised faculty on biotechnology curriculum, grant writing, and program development
- Supervised student research on potato genotyping.
- Assisted faculty research on the molecular sex determination of fruit trees and the DNA sequence identification of arsenic-resistant bacteria in water
1992-93, Visiting Scientist, Moss Land Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, CA
- Developed an immunochemical assay for phytoplankton pigments
- Taught graduate seminar on marine molecular biology
1990, Visiting Scholar, National Academy of Sciences Exchange Program, Institute of Experimental Botany, Prague, Czechoslovakia
- Research on sub-cellular cytokinin-binding proteins in wheat
- Lectured at Czech Academy laboratories and universities
Honors and Awards
- Andreoli Service Award for outstanding biotechnology teaching and research contributions, California State University Program for Education & Research in Biotechnology (2004)
- Outstanding Professor, San José State University (1998-99)
- Sigma Xi College of Distinguished Lecturers (1996-98)
- Meritorious Performance and Professional Promise Award, San José State University (1988)
Memberships and Boards
- SJSU Master of Biotechnology (MBT) Program Advisory Council (2002-2006)
- Board of Directors & Science Committee, Pescadero Conservation Alliance (2001-2006)
- Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council member (2000-2006)
- California State University Program for Education & Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB):
- Strategic Planning Council (2001-2004)
- Executive Committee (2000)
- Governing Board (1995-1999)
- Chair, SJSU Recombinant DNA Review Committee (2000-2002)
- Chair, SJSU Biotechnology Industry Advisory Board (1999-2001)
- Board of Directors, SJSU Field Studies in Natural History Program (1990-1997)
- The American Chemical Society
- The California Botanical Society
Presentations at Scientific Meetings (since 1990)
- Rangewide genetic variation in coast redwood populations. (2011) Coast Redwoods in a Changing California. University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA (talk)
- Molecular systematics and phylogeography of federally listed spineflower (Chorizanthe) species in the Monterey Bay region: Evolutionary, taxonomic & conservation implications (2006) 8th Annual Bay Area Conservation Biology Symposium, San Francisco State University (talk)
- Molecular taxonomy and phylogenetics of fragmented spineflower (Chorizanthe) populations in the Monterey Bay region of California (2005) 5th Biennial Meeting of the Systematics Association, Cardiff, Wales, UK (talk)
- Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) and California Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) populations (2004) Raptor Research Foundation Conference, Bakersfield, CA. (talk)
- DNA analysis of naturally molted feathers for expanded raptor monitoring with examples from Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis) (2004) Raptor Research Foundation Conference, Bakersfield, CA. (talk)
- Multiple genetic analyses from single feathers (2004) Western Section of the Wildlife Society Conference, Rohnert Park, CA. (poster)
- Microsatellite analysis of Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) populations (2004) Western Section of The Wildlife Society Conference, Rohnert Park, CA. (talk)
- Genetic markers in Sequoia (2004) Redwood Region Forest Science Symposium, Rohnert Park, CA. (talk)
- A 10-year timber harvest plan database for the Santa Cruz Mountains (2000) Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council meeting, Los Altos, CA. (talk)
- Microsatellite-primed DNA fingerprinting using a simple sequence repeat primer anchored at its 3’ end (1999) CSU Biotechnology Symposium, Pomona, CA. (poster)
- Isolation of DNA from single conifer needles without tissue homogenization or organic extraction (1999) CSU Biotechnology Symposium, Pomona, CA. (poster)
- Comparison of rDNA sequence in the taxonomic study of genera in the redwood family (1996) CSU Biotechnology Symposium, Pomona, CA. (poster)
- The major seed storage proteins of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) (1995) J.E. Kinsella Memorial Symposium on Food Proteins and Lipids, ACS National Meeting, Chicago, IL. (invited speaker)
- Photoaffinity labeling of a cytokinin-binding integral membrane protein in plant mitochondria (1994) International Symposium on Plant Hormone Signal Perception and Transduction, Moscow, Russia. (invited speaker and session chair)
- Cryobiolistics: The biolistic transformation of plant cells using frozen DNA as microprojectiles. (1991) Third International Congress of the Society for Plant Molecular Biology, Tucson, AZ (poster)
- Photoaffinity labeling of mung bean mitochondria using 2-azido-N6-[H3]benzylaminopurine (1990) International Symposium on the Physiology and Biochemistry of Cytokinins in Plants, Liblice, Czechoslovakia. (invited speaker)
- Brinegar C, A Cueva, D Arias, & D Vélez (2015) Population genetics of the threatened endemic Cinchona officinalis (Rubiaceae): Conservation implications for fragmented populations in southern Ecuador. (in preparation)
- Brinegar C (2012) Rangewide genetic variation in coast redwood populations at a chloroplast microsatellite locus. Standiford, Richard B.; Weller, Theodore J.; Piirto, Douglas D.; Stuart, John D, technical coordinators. 2012. Proceedings of coast redwood forests in a changing California: A symposium for scientists and managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-238. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, pp. 231-239.
- Gauchan DP, C Brinegar, A Hada & D Singh (2012) Molecular characterization of Nepali potato cultivars using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. J. Adv. Lab. Res. Biol. 3: 86-90.
- Brinegar C & S Baron (2009) Molecular phylogeny of the Pungentes subsection of Chorizanthe (Polygonaceae: Eriogonoideae) with emphasis on the phylogeography of the C. pungens – C. robusta complex. Madroño: The Western Journal of Botany 56: 168-183.
- Brinegar C (2009) Assessing evolution and biodiversity in plants at the molecular level. Kathmandu University Journal of Science, Engineering and Technology 5: 149-159. (invited review article)
- Brinegar C, D Bruno, R Kirkbride, S Glavas & I Udranszky (2007) Applications of redwood genotyping using microsatellite markers. In: Proceedings of the Redwood Region Forest Science Symposium: What Does the Future Hold? March 15-17, 2004, Rohnert Park, CA. RB Standiford, GA Giusti, Y Valachovic, WJ Zielinski, MJ Furniss, eds., USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, CA, pp 47-55.
- Bruno D & C Brinegar (2004) Microsatellite markers in coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Molecular Ecology Notes 4: 482-484.
- Brinegar C & D Levee (2004) A simple method for detecting genetically modified maize in common food products. Biochem. Molec. Biology Educ. 32: 35-38.
- Mendonca H, J Smith & C Brinegar (2001) Isolation and characterization of four microsatellite loci for the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi). Marine Biotechnol. 3: 91-95.
- Brinegar C (1997) The seed storage proteins of quinoa. In: Food Proteins and Lipids, S Damodaran, ed., Plenum Press, New York, pp. 109-115.
- Brinegar C, B Sine & L Nwokocha (1996) High-cysteine 2S seed storage proteins from quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). J. Agric. Food Chem. 44: 1621-1623.
- Brinegar C, G Shah & G Cooper (1996) Photoaffinity labeling of a cytokinin-binding integral membrane protein in plant mitochondria. Plant Growth Regulation 18: 45-50.
- Brinegar C (1994) Cytokinin binding proteins and receptors. In: Cytokinins – Chemistry, Activity and Function, D Mok, M Mok, eds. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 217-232.
- Brinegar C & S Goundan (1993) Isolation and characterization of chenopodin, the 11S seed storage protein of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). J. Agric. Food Chem. 41: 182-185.
- Brinegar AC, S Blumenthal & G Cooper (1992) Photoaffinity labeling of mung bean mitochondria using 2-azido-N6-[H3]benzylaminopurine. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Physiology and Biochemistry of Cytokinins in Plants, M Kaminek, DWS Mok, E Zazimalova, eds. SPB Academic Publishing, The Hague, pp 301-307.
- Brinegar AC, J Shabanowitz, C Hauer, G Cooper, A Stevens, D Hunt & JE Fox (1988) Characterization of a benzyladenine binding site peptide isolated from a wheat cytokinin-binding protein: Sequence analysis and identification of a single affinity-labeled histidine residue by mass spectrometry. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 85: 5927-5931.
- Brinegar AC & JE Fox (1987) Immunocytological localization of a wheat embryo cytokinin-binding protein and its homology with proteins in other cereals. In: Plant Hormone Receptors, NATO ASI Series, D Klambt, ed., Springer-Verlag, pp. 177-184.
- Peterson DM & AC Brinegar (1986) Oat storage proteins. In: Oats: Chemistry and Technology, F Webster, ed., American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, pp. 153-203.
- Brinegar AC & JE Fox (1985) Studies on a wheat embryo cytokinin-binding protein. In: Current Topics in Plant Biochemistry and Physiology 1985, Vol. 4, Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Plant Biochemistry and Physiology Symposium, DD Randall, ed., University of Missouri, pp 91-100.
- Brinegar AC & JE Fox (1985) The developmental expression and molecular cloning of the gene for a wheat embryo cytokinin-binding protein. In: Plant Genetics, UCLA Symposium on Molecular and Cellular Biology, New Series, Vol. 35, M Freeling, ed., Alan R. Liss, Inc., New York, pp. 147-155.
- Brinegar AC, A Stevens & JE Fox (1985) Biosynthesis and degradation of a wheat embryo cytokinin-binding protein during embryogenesis and germination. Plant Physiol. 79: 706-710.
- Brinegar AC & JE Fox (1985) Resolution of the subunit composition of a cytokinin-binding protein from wheat embryos. Biol. Plantarum 27: 100-104.
- Myers SP, AC Brinegar, LE Schrader, DB Jordan & WL Ogren (1983) Ploidy effects in isogenic populations of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). IV. Similarity in physical and kinetic properties of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase. Plant Physiol. 71: 966-968.
- Brinegar AC & DM Peterson (1982) Synthesis of oat globulin precursors: Analogy to legume 11S storage protein synthesis. Plant Physiol. 70: 1767-1769.
- Brinegar AC & DM Peterson (1982) Separation and characterization of oat globulin polypeptides. Arch. Biochem. Biophys. 219: 71-79.
- Brinegar AC & JE Kinsella (1981) Reversible modification of lysine in b-lactoglobulin using citraconic anhydride. Effects on the sulfhydryl groups. Int. J. Peptide Prot. Res. 18: 18-25.
- Brinegar AC & JE Kinsella (1980) Reversible modification of lysine in soybean proteins using citraconic anhydride: Characterization of physical and chemical changes in soy protein isolate, the 7S globulin, and lipoxygenase. J. Agric. Food Chem. 28: 818-824.
- Scheidt WR, AC Brinegar, JF Kirner & CA Reed (1979) Stereochemistry of low spin bis-(pyridine)(meso-tetraphenylporphinato) chromium(II). Inorg. Chem. 18: 3610-3612.
- Scheidt WR, AC Brinegar, EB Ferro & JF Kirner (1977) Nitrosylmetalloporphyrins. 4. Molecular stereochemistry of two crystal forms of nitrosyl-a,b,g,d-tetraphenylporphinato(4-methylpiperidine) iron(II). A structural correlation with n(NO). J. Am. Chem. Soc. 99: 7315-7322.
- Brinegar C (1996) Introduction to Cell Biology Laboratory Manual, Burgess Publishing, Edina, MN (88 pp.).
- Brinegar C, J Gilmore, M Johnson, N Walker (1993) Methods and Apparatus for Ice-Mediated Introduction of Substances into Biological Material. U.S. Patent no. 5,219,746.
- “Ask the Redwood Doctor” quarterly column in the Sempervirens Fund newsletter and website (6/01-7/08)
Sigma Xi National Lecture Series Presentations (1996-1998)
Genetic Engineering in the Supermarket: North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, Mesa State College, Carleton College, Temple University, University of Richmond, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Eckerd College, Ridgecrest Community College, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Auburn University, Alcoa Aluminum Research Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, University of Southern Mississippi
Agricultural Biotechnology at the Crossroads: California Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, CA
Lessons from the Redwood Forest: Carlton College
History and Ecology of the California Coast Redwoods: University of New Mexico, Claremont McKenna College, Hoffman-LaRoche Pharmaceuticals, Eckerd College, University of California-Santa Cruz, San Jose State University
Consulting and Advising
- Forest ecology consultant for pine beetle infestation of privately held forestland in Aspen, CO (2004-08)
- Taxonomic advice to the Fremont (CA) Police Department concerning the species identification of a tree branch used in a double homicide (3/04)
- Member of advisory panel to Congressman Sam Farr (D-Salinas) on bioengineered foods (2/00)
- Expert witness, People v. Muranaka and Johnson, Federal Court, San Jose, CA. Presented botanical information to distinguish between marijuana plants grown from seed or cuttings (4/99 and 10/99)
- Expert witness, People v. Crippen, Santa Clara County, CA. Reviewed and conducted plant DNA fingerprinting experiments in a murder case where leaf material from a crime scene was found in the suspect’s car.