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Dr. Robert M. Goodman Profile

Photo of Dean Robert M. Goodman.

Office Hours: Wednesdays 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or by appointment 848-932-3248.

Dr. Robert M. Goodman is a plant biologist and virologist who from 2005 to 2020 served as Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Rutgers University, executive dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, executive director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, and Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. In 2020, he was named a University Professor by the Rutgers Board of Governors and Executive Dean Emeritus.

He studied at the Johns Hopkins University and then transferred to Cornell University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Plant Sciences in 1967. After two years of civilian service (1969–1971), he completed a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at Cornell University in 1973. He was awarded a NATO postdoctoral fellowship by the National Science Foundation for study in molecular virology at the John Innes Institute in Norwich, England. In 1974, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and later promoted to Associate Professor in 1978 and Professor in 1981. Notable work during his years at Illinois were the discovery and characterization of the Geminiviruses, the first-known circular, single stranded DNA viruses in plants. He was also a member of the AID-funded International Soybean Program.

In 1982, Goodman was named Vice President, and thereafter Executive Vice President, for Research and Development at Calgene, Inc., an early plant biotechnology company and one of the pioneers in the genetic engineering of crop species, notably pesticide resistance and the use of anti-sense RNA to modify crop traits.

From 1991 to 2005, he was a professor of plant pathology and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where his laboratory carried out pioneering work on the diversity of soil microorganisms refractory to cultivation and co-developed the approach for microbial ecology studies now widely called metagenomics.

He is widely published in scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Virology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on topics including soil metagenomics, the discovery of the geminiviruses, and characterization of unexpected Archaeal and Eubacterial clades in soil.

In addition to his executive roles at Calgene, Inc., and Rutgers, Goodman has served in several other senior leadership positions, including the Board of Trustees of the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) where he chaired the Program Committee, chair of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources section of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), and founder and chair of the Oversight Committee for the McKnight Foundation's Collaborative Crop Research Program. At Wisconsin he chaired the undergraduate major in molecular biology. He also has experience as a member of Boards of Directors of several small publicly-traded and private startup companies, including two initial public offerings.

Since his first faculty appointment to the International Soybean Program at the University of Illinoi at Urbana-Champaign in 1974, Goodman's scholarship has included an international dimension. In the early 1990s, he was invited by the McKnight Foundation to lead the creation of a new program that became the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP). In its initial phase, the program solicited and funded proposals initiated and led by leading crop research groups based in selected less developed countries of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. An innovation in global agricultural research at the time, these grants funded partnerships led by scientists based in the global South with scientists in institutions in the North to conduct research on understudied crops that underpin food and nutritional security. The first phase of this program is described by Richard Manning in "Food's Frontier: The Next Green Revolution" (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2001). Over time, as this program grew, it also shifted to an increasing focus on using community-based agroecological studies by farmer-centered, communities of practice in Africa and the Americas. Goodman led the Oversight Committee for the CCRP until 2005 when he moved to Rutgers. In 2023, the McKnight Foundation again renewed its commitment to this work and renamed the program "Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems".

In 2013, Goodman was invited to a conversation with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation regarding the Foundation's program "Recharging the Youth" that focused on redressing the dire issue of youth unemployment in Greece. After a pilot study of opportunities to engage youth in the agrifood sector of Greece, Rutgers proposed and the SNF funded a major grant to implement youth workforce development and entrepreneurship. The initial phase of this work, called "New Agriculture for a New Generation", was conducted by a Rutgers-led team based in and employing Greek staff and partnerships with Greek public and private sector partners. In 2021, a new civil society not-for-profit company, "New Agriculture New Generation" (NeAGeN) was created to carry on this work, with continued technical and strategic support from Rutgers (

He is an elected Fellow of the AAAS and of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Among his roles as University Professor, Dr. Goodman serves as a senior strategic advisor for the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–Newark. He is a member of the American Farmland Trust's New York Council and a newly appointed member of the AFT President’s Council. He serves as a member of the board of directors of Microbiota Vault Inc. He also continues his longstanding work as the Principal Investigator for the Rutgers University project with New Agriculture New Generation (NeAGeN), now a public not-for-profit company in Greece. NeAGeN's origins were in a 2013 initiative, "Recharging the Youth", of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). SNF provided a major grant to Rutgers University to design and implement the agricultural and food system pilar of the Recharging the Youth program. Among his current activities with NeAGeN, he is working to develop curriculum for a new leadership program for the agriculture and food sectors, the first of its kind in Europe.


School Program Degree Years
John Innes Institute, UK Plant Virology Postdoctoral Fellow 1973–1974
Cornell University Plant Pathology Ph.D. 1973
Cornell University Plant Sciences B.Sc. 1967
The Johns Hopkins University     1963–1965


Title Institution Years
University Professor and Executive Dean Emeritus Rutgers University 2020-
Distinguished Professor Rutgers University 2005-
Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources Rutgers University 2005-2020
Chair, Major in Molecular Biology University of Wisconsin-Madison 1994-2005
Co-chair, Biology Major University of Wisconsin-Madison 1999-2001
Professor University of Wisconsin-Madison 1991-2005
Senior Scholar-In-Residence National Research Council/NAS 1990-1991
Visiting Professor University of Wisconsin-Madison 1990-1991
Executive Vice President, R&D Calgene, Inc., Davis, CA 1982-1990
Professor University of Illinois-Urbana 1981-1982
Associate Professor University of Illinois-Urbana 1978-1981
Assistant Professor University of Illinois-Urbana 1974-1978



Note: Total number of publications since 1967 in refereed journals is 116.

Key Publications, 1977–2011

All Publications, 2000–Present

  1. Rondon, M. R., P. R. August, A. D. Bettermann, S. F. Brady, T. H. Grossman, M. R. Liles, K. A. Loiacono, B. A. Lynch, I. A. MacNeil, C. Minor, C. L. Tiong, M. Gilman, M. S. Osburne, J. Clardy, J. Handelsman, and R. M. Goodman. 2000. Cloning the soil metagenome: A strategy for accessing the genetic and functional diversity of uncultured microorganisms. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66:2541-2547.
  2. Simon, H. M., J. Dodsworth, and R. M. Goodman. 2000. Crenarcheota colonize terrestrial plant roots. Environ. Microbiol. 2:495-505.
  3. Kazmar, E. R., R. M. Goodman, C. R. Grau, D. W. Johnson, E. V. Nordheim, D. J. Undersander, and J. Handelsman. 2000. Regression analyses for evaluating the influence of Bacillus cereus on alfalfa yield under variable disease intensity. (PDF) Phytopathology 90:657-665.
  4. Broderick, N. A., R. M. Goodman, K. F. Raffa, and J. Handelsman. 2000. Synergy between zwittermicin A and Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki against gypsy moth (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae). (PDF) Environ. Entomol. 29:101-107.
  5. Simon, H. M., K. P. Smith, J. A. Dodsworth, B. Guenthner, J. Handelsman, and R. M. Goodman. 2001. Influence of tomato genotype on growth of inoculated and indigenous bacteria in the spermosphere. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67:514-520.
  6. Nelson, B. P., T. E. Grimsrud, M. R. Liles, R. M. Goodman, and R. M. Corn. 2001. Surface plasmon resonance imaging measurements of DNA and RNA hybridization adsorption onto DNA microarrays. (PDF) Anal. Chem. 73:1-7.
  7. Dasgupta, R., B. H. Garcia II, and R. M. Goodman. 2001. Systemic spread of an RNA insect virus in plants expressing plant viral movement protein genes. (PDF) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:4910-4915.
  8. Song, F., and R. M. Goodman. 2001. Molecular biology of disease resistance in rice. (PDF) Physiol. Molec. Plant Pathol. 59:1-11.
  9. Song, F., and R. M. Goodman. 2001. Activity of nitric oxide is dependent on, but is partially required for function of salicylic acid in the signaling pathway in tobacco systemic acquired resistance. (PDF) Molec. Plant Microbe Interact. 14:1458-1462.
  10. R. M. Goodman. 2001. Who owns the crops? Issues Sci. Tech. 18: 14-15.
  11. Song, F., and R. M. Goodman. 2002. OsBIMK1, a rice MAP kinase gene involved in disease resistance responses. (PDF) Planta 215:997-1005.
  12. Song, F., and R. M. Goodman. 2002. Molecular cloning and characterization of a rice phosphoinositide-specific phospholipase C gene, OsPI-PLC1, that is activated in systemic acquired resistance. (PDF) Physiol. Molec. Plant Pathol. 61:31-40.
  13. Song, F., and R. M. Goodman. 2002. Cloning and identification of the promoter of the tobacco Sar8.2b gene, a gene involved in systemic acquired resistance. (PDF) Gene 290:115-124.
  14. J. Handelsman, M. Liles, D. Mann, C. Riesenfeld, and R. M. Goodman.  2002. Cloning the metagenome: culture-independent access to the diversity and functions of the uncultivated microbial world. Methods Microbiol. 33: 241-255.
  15. Gillespie, D. E., S. F. Brady, A. D. Bettermann, N. P. Cianciotto, M. R. Liles, M. R. Rondon, J. Clardy, R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2002. Isolation of antibiotics turbomycin A and B from a metagenomic library of soil microbial DNA. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (PDF) 68:4301-4306.
  16. Nelson, B. P., M. R. Liles, K. B. Frederick, R. M. Corn, and R. M. Goodman. 2002. Label-free detection of 16S ribosomal RNA hybridization on reusable DNA arrays using surface plasmon resonance imaging. (PDF) Environ. Microbiol. 4:735-743.
  17. Goodman, R. M., R. Naylor, H. Tefera, and W. Falcon. 2002.  The rice genome and the minor grains. Science 296: 1801-1802. Doi: 10.1126/science.296.5574.1801b
  18. Broderick, N. R., R. M. Goodman, J. Handelsman, and K. F. Raffa. 2003. Effect of host diet and insect source on synergy of gypsy moth (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) mortality to Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki by zwittermicin A. (PDF) Environ. Entomol. 32:387-391.
  19. Kapuscinski, A. R., R. M. Goodman, S. D. Hann, L. R. Jacobs, E. E. Pullins, C. S. Johnson, J. D. Kinsey, R. L. Krall, A. G.M. La Viña, M. G. Mellon, and V. W. Ruttan. 2003. Making "Safety First" a reality for biotechnology products. (PDF) Nature Biotechnol. 21:599-601.
  20. Liles, M. R., B. F. Manske, S. B. Bintrim, J. Handelsman and R. M. Goodman. 2003. A census of rRNA genes and linked genomic sequences within a soil metagenomic library. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69:2684-2691.
  21. Stone, A. G., G. E. Vallad, L. R. Cooperband, D. Rotenberg, H. R. Darby, R. V. James, W. Stevenson, and R. M. Goodman. 2003. The effects of organic amendments on soil-borne and foliar diseases in a field vegetable rotation. (PDF) Plant Disease 87:1037-1042.
  22. Broderick, N. A., K. F. Raffa, R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2004. Census of the bacterial community of the gypsy moth larval midgut by using culturing and culture-independent methods. (PDF) Appl. Envir. Microbiol. 70:293-300.
  23. Vallad, G. E., L. Cooperband, and R. M. Goodman. 2004. Plant foliar disease suppression mediated by composted forms of paper mill residuals exhibits molecular features of induced resistance. (PDF) Physiol. Molec. Plant Pathol. 63:65-77.
  24. Sliwinski, M. K., and R. M. Goodman. 2004. Spatial heterogeneity of crenarchaeal assemblages within mesophilic soil ecosystems revealed by PCR-single stranded conformation polymorphism (PCR-SSCP) profiling. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70:1811-1820.
  25. Sliwinski, M. K., and R. M. Goodman. 2004. Comparison of the crenarchaeal consortia inhabiting the rhizosphere of diverse terrestrial plants with those in bulk soil in native environments. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70:1821-1826.
  26. Naylor, R. L., W. P. Falcon , R. M. Goodman, M. M. Jahn, T. Sengooba, H. Tefera, and R. J. Nelson. 2004. Biotechnology in the developing world: A case for increased investments in orphan crops. Food Policy 29:15-44.
  27. Riesenfeld, C. S., R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2004. Uncultured soil bacteria are a reservoir of new antibiotic resistance genes. (PDF) Environ. Microbiol. 6:981-989.
  28. Vallad, G. E, and R. M. Goodman. 2004. Systemic acquired resistance and induced systemic resistance in conventional agriculture. (PDF) Crop Sci. 44:1920-1934.
  29. Simon, H. M., C. E. Jahn, L. T. Bergerud, M. K. Sliwinski, P. J. Weimer, D. K. Willis, and R. M. Goodman. 2005. Cultivation of mesophilic soil crenarchaeotes in enrichment cultures from plant roots. (PDF) Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71:4751-4760.
  30. Luo, H., F. Song, R. M. Goodman, Z. Zheng. 2005. Up-Regulation of OsBIHD1, a rice gene encoding BELL homeodomain transcriptional factor, in disease resistance responses. (PDF) Plant Biology 7:459-468.
  31. Cao, Y., F. Song, R. M. Goodman, Z. Zheng. 2006. Molecular characterization of four rice genes encoding ethylene-responsive transcriptional factors and their expressions in response to biotic and abiotic stress. Journal of Plant Physiology 163:1167-1178. Doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2005.11.004
  32. Sabree, Z. L., V. Bergendahl, M. R. Liles, R. R. Burgess, R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2006. Identification and characterization of the gene encoding the Acidobacterium capsulatum major sigma factor. (PDF) Gene 376:144-151.
  33. Mentzer, J.L., R. M. Goodman, and T. C. Balser. 2006. Microbial response over time to hydrologic and fertilization treatments in a simulated wet prairie. Plant and Soil 284:85-100. Doi: 10.1007/s11104-006-0032-1
  34. Gutknecht, J. L. M., R. M. Goodman, and T. C. Balser.  2006. Linking soil process and molecular ecology in freshwater wetland habitats. Plant and Soil 289:17-34. Doi: 10.1007/s11104-006-9105-4
  35. Garcia, II, B. H., and R. M. Goodman. 2007. Use of surface plasmon resonance imaging to study viral RNA:protein interactions. Journal of Virological Methods 147:18-25. Doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2007.08.002
  36. Kowalchuk, G. A., A. J. C. L. Speksnijder, K. Zhang, R. M. Goodman, and J. A. Veen. 2007.  Finding the needles in the metagenome haystack.  Microbial Ecology 53: 475-485. Doi: 10.1007/s00248-006-9201-2
  37. D. Rotenberg, A. J. Wells, E. J. Chapman, A. E. Whitfield, R. M. Goodman, and L. R. Cooperband.  2007. Soil properties associated with organic matter-mediated suppression of bean root rot in field soil amended with fresh and comosted paper mill residuals. Soil Biol. Biochem. 39: 2936-2948. Doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2007.06.011
  38. Liles, M. R., L. L. Williamson, J. Rodbumrer, V. Torsvik, R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2008. Recovery, purification and cloning of high molecular weight DNA from soil microorganisms. Appl. Environ. Microbiology 74: 3302-3305. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02630-07
  39. George, I., M. R. Liles, M. Hartmann, W. Ludwig, R. M. Goodman, and S. Agathos. 2009. Changes in soil Acidobacteria communities after 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene contamination. (PDF) Federation of European Microbiological Societies 296: 159-166.
  40. Falkowski, P. and R. M. Goodman. 2009.  Future energy institutes.  Science 325: 655. Doi: 10.1126/science.1176998
  41. Liles, M. R., L. L. Williamson, J. Rodbumrer, V. Torsvik, L. C. Parsley, R. M. Goodman, and J. Handelsman. 2009. Recovery, purification and cloning of high molecular weight DNA from soil microorganisms. Cold Spring Harbor Protocols 2009(8): .
  42. Kerkhof, L. J. and R. M. Goodman. Ocean microbial metagenomics (PDF). 2009. Deep-Sea Research II 56:1824-1829.
  43. Liles, M. R., O. Turkmen, B. Manske, M. Zhang, J. Rouillard, I. George, T. Balser, N. Billor and R. M. Goodman. A phylogenetic microarray targeting 16S rRNA genes from the bacterial division Acidobacteria reveals a lineage-specific distribution in a soil clay fraction. 2010 Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 42:739-747. Doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2010.01.007
  44. K. S. Kakirde, J. Wild, R. Godiska, D. A. Mead, A. G. Wiggins, R. M. Goodman, W. Szybalski, and M. R. Liles.  2011. Gram negative shuttle BAC vector for heterologous expression of metagenomic libraries. Gene 475:57-62. Doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.11.004
  45. L. C. Parsley, J. Linneman, A. M. Goode, K. Beckland, I. George, R. M. Goodman, N. B. Lopanick, and M. R. Liles.  2011.  Polyketide synthase pathways identified from a metagenomic library are derived from soil Acidobacteria. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 78: 176-187. Doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01122.x
  46. Pinto-Tomás, A. A., A. Sittenfeld, L. Uribe-Lorío, F. Chavarría, M. Mora, D. H. Janzen, R. M. Goodman, and H. M. Simon. Comparison of Midgut Bacterial Diversity in Tropical Caterpillars (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) Fed on Different Diets. 2011 Environ. Entomol. 40(5):1111-1122. Doi: 10.1603/EN11083
  47. J. W. Bennet, D. Eveleigh, and R. M. Goodman.  2017.  H. Boyd Woodruff (1917-2017) Science 356: 381. Doi: 10.1126/science.aan3952
  48. Hugo K. Dooner, Robert M. Goodman, Pal Maliga, and Marja Timmermans. 2021. Joachim W. Messing (1946–2019).

Books and Chapters in Books, 2000–Present

US Issued Patents

  1. R. M. Goodman, V. C. Knauf, C. M. Houck, and L. Comai.  1990.  Mammalian peptide expression in plant cells.  4,956,282.
  2. R. M. Goodman, V. C. Knauf, C. M. Houck, and L. Comai.  1996.  Molecular farming.  5,550,038.
  3. J. Handelsman, L. M. Jacobson, D. W. Johnson, K. P. Smith, R. M. Goodman, and E. V. Stabb.  Bacillus cereus strain AS4-12.  5,552,138.
  4. R. M. Goodman, V. C. Knauf, C. M. Houck, and L. Comai.  1997.  Molecular farming.  5,629,175.
  5. J.A. Ryals, D. C. Alexander, J. J. Beck, J. H. Duesing, R. M. Goodman, L.R. Friedrich, C. Harms, F. Meins Jr., A. Montoya,  M. B. Moyer, J.-M. Neuhuis, G. P. Payne, C. Sperisen, J. R. Stinson, S. J. Uknes, E. R. Ward, and S. C. Williams.  1997.  Chemically regulatable and anti-pathogenic DNA sequences and uses thereof.  5,614,395.
  6. J.A. Ryals, D. C. Alexander, J. J. Beck, J. H. Duesing, R. M. Goodman, L.R. Friedrich, C. Harms, F. Meins Jr., A. Montoya,  M. B. Moyer, J.-M. Neuhuis, G. P. Payne, C. Sperisen, J. R. Stinson, S. J. Uknes, E. R. Ward, and S. C. Williams.  1997.  Chemically regulatable and anti-pathogenic DNA sequences and uses thereof.  5,650,505.
  7. J. Handelsman, E. V. Stabb, L. M. Jacobson, R. M. Goodman, David W. Johnson, and K. P. Smith.  1997.  Bacillus cereus Strain MS1-9, ATCC 55812.  5700462.
  8. J. A. Ryals, D.C. Alexander, R. M. Goodman, and J. R. Stinson.  1998.  Chemically regulatable and anti-pathogenic DNA sequences and uses thereof.  5,777,200.
  9. J. A. Ryals, D.C. Alexander, R. M. Goodman, and J. R. Stinson.  1998.   DNA sequences encoding SAR8.2 proteins and uses thereof.  5,767,369.
  10. J. A. Ryals, D. C. Alexander, R. M. Goodman, E. R. Ward.  1999.  Method of protecting plants from oomycete pathogens. 5,856,154.
  11. R. M. Goodman, V. C. Knauf, C. M. Houck, and L. Comai.  2000.  Method and transgenic plant for producing mammalian peptides.  6,096,547.
  12. J. Handelsman, R. M. Goodman, and M. R. Rondon.  2001.  Microorganism genomics, compositions and methods related thereto.  6,261842.
  13. M. R. Liles and R. M. Goodman.  2001.  Template-specific termination in a polymerase chain reaction.  6,248,567.
  14. R. K. Dasgupta and R. M. Goodman.  2004.  Plant expression vectors based on the flock house virus genome.  6,700,038
  15. R. M. Goodman, V. C. Knauf, C. M. Houck, and L. Comai.  2004.  Molecular farming.  6,774,283.
  16. B. P. Nelson, M. R. Lilies, K. Frederick, R. M. Corn, and R. M. Goodman.  2005.  Label-free detection of nucleic acids via surface plasmon resonance.  6,849,397.
  17. J. Handelsman, R. M. Goodman, and M.R. Rondon.   2006.  Microorganism genomics, compositions and methods related thereto.  7,008,767.
  18. J. E. Handlesman, R. M. Goodman, D. E. Gillespie, A. D. Betterman, J. C. Clardy, and S. F. Brady.  2006.  Triaryl cation antibiotics from environmental DNA.  7,115,753.