Mark is a native of McDowell County, WV. He obtained a B.S. and M.S in biological sciences from Marshall University and a PhD. in botany from Oregon State University. He worked for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service for 6 years at the University of Illinois and Oregon State University before joining the Department of Biology at West Virginia State University.
Mark’s professional interests have been in plant ecology and physiology where he has been active as a teacher and researcher for 29 years. In his M.S. thesis research, plant leaf anatomy was correlated with resistance to sulfur dioxide pollution. His PhD. dissertation research characterized cytokinin oxidase activity obtained from bean cell cultures. At the time of this study, the enzyme was considered by detractors to be an artifact. It has recently been shown to determine grain seed number and it has been suggested that controlling this enzyme may double grain yields and world food supplies (You never know where scientific findings will be applied in the future!). Mark has characterized several genes and other proteins involved in plant photosynthesis in the lab of Sir Bill Ogren and oxidative stress during nitrogen fixation in his and Dr. David Dalton’s lab. He also screened (unsuccessfully) for floral induction genes in the lab of Dr. Robert Doss. During the past eight years, Mark has developed and directed an integrated environmental program involving thermophilic anaerobic digestion of organic wastes. Application of these research projects has yielded several environmental and alternative energy technologies.
Mark is a member of several professional societies including the American Society of Plant Biologists, the American Society for Microbiology, and the WV Academy of Sciences. He has directed several dozen undergraduate and graduate student research projects and published 19 articles in peer-reviewed international journals.