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's research program focuses on three major areas: 1) Genomics and functional genomics and biotechnology of bioenergy crops as a part of the DOE’s Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) program, including Populus, soybean and others, particularly for agronomic and horticultural traits, like drought resistance, 2) Biotechnology and breeding of horticultural crops. Dr. Cheng has authored and coauthored over 60 refereed publications, eight book chapters, guest-edited a special issue of Critical Review in Plant Sciences (with Dr. G.A.Tuskan), and a special issue of PCTOC-J of Plant Biotechnology (with Dr. Schuyler Korban). Dr. Cheng owns or jointly-owns three Plant Variety patents and two disclosures. 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 currently an Associate Editor for Plant Cell Tissue organ Culture, Consulting Editor for HortScience and an Editorial member for Acta Agricultural Biotechnology. Dr. Cheng regularly reviews proposals for NSF, USDA, and manuscripts for various professional journals. Dr. Cheng also serves to the profession, university and community in various capacities.
In very limited spare time, Dr. Cheng enjoys diverse activities, including travel, exercise, reading, volunteering in local communities, and philanthropy.
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”.