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2431 Joe Johnson Dr.
Univ of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
865-974-7324 ph
865-974-1947 fax


Max Cheng

Dr. Cheng received his Ph.D in 1991 and MS in 1988 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and his B.S. degree in 1982 from Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China. After his graduation from Cornell, he worked as an Assistant and Associate Professor at North Dakota State University from November 1990 to August 2001, and as the Director of the Cellular & Molecular Biology Ph.D Program (10/1998 -- 8/2001). Dr. Cheng joined the University of Tennessee in August 2001 as an Associate Professor, and now is a Full Professor. Dr. Cheng also is a joint faculty in the College of Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University, China.

Dr. Cheng's research program focuses on three major areas: 1) Genomics and functional genomics and biotechnology of bioenergy crops, including Populus, soybean and agaves, particularly for agronomic and horticultural traits, like drought resistance, 2) Genomics and functional genomics and biotechnology of fruit crops, particularly grapevine, apple and strawberry, and 3) plant genome evolution, particularly genome duplication, intron evolution and calcium signaling evolution, and gene family analysis.  Dr. Cheng has authored and coauthored over 70 refereed publications, eight book chapters. Dr. Cheng owns or jointly-owns three Plant Variety patents, and one US patent. Over the years, Dr. Cheng’s research has been funded by USDA-NRI, DOE, CPBR/DOE/EPA, NPS, USDA-FS, USDA-SCS, and various biotech and nursery companies. 

Dr. Cheng is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Horticulture Research (, the peer-reviewed, online, open-access professional journal, jointed published by nature Publishing Group and Nanjing Agricultural Universityin January, 2014. Dr. Cheng is also an Associate Editor for Plant Cell Tissue organ Culture and an Editorial member for Journal of Agricultural Biotechnology. Dr. Cheng served as a Consulting Editor for HortScience (2010-2013), and the guest-edited two special issues of Critical Review in Plant Sciences (one with Dr. G.A.Tuskan), and a special issue of PCTOC-J of Plant Biotechnology (with Dr. Schuyler Korban). Cheng also serves to the profession, university and community in various capacities. Dr. Cheng served as Dr. Cheng regularly reviews proposals for NSF, USDA, BARD, and manuscripts for various professional journals.

Dr. Cheng was elected as a Fellow of American Society for Horticultural Sciences, and also a recipient for Forest Educator Award by the North Dakota Forest Service.

In very limited spare time, Dr. Cheng enjoys diverse activities, including travel, exercise, reading, volunteering in local communities. 

Max Cheng, has been called “Cheng” at Cornell in Ithaca, NY, “Zong-Ming’ at NDSU in Fargo, ND, and “Max” at UT in Knoxville. “Max”, not Maxwell, rather “Maximum”.