Professor of Science, Policy, and Society; University Faculty Scholar; GES Center Executive Committee Member
Forestry and Environmental Resources, College of Natural Resources
Dr. Jason A. Delborne is Professor of Science, Policy, and Society and University Faculty Scholar at North Carolina State University. Appointed in 2013 to the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, Delborne teaches and conducts research at the intersection of environmental policy, biotechnology, and public engagement. He draws upon the highly interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) to engage qualitative research methodologies to explore how policymakers, stakeholders and members of the public interface with emerging biotechnologies designed for environmental benefit.
Recent projects have focused on the genetically engineered chestnut tree, a gene drive mouse for biodiversity conservation, and the management of free ranging cats in National Parks. Delborne was twice appointed to expert committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), which published Gene Drives on the Horizon (2016) and Forest Health and Biotechnology (2019). He serves on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation, which published Genetic Frontiers for Conservation (2019). His academic scholarship includes over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, appearing in journals such as Science, Social Studies of Science, BioScience, and Public Understanding of Science. Delborne holds a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University (1993) and a doctorate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley (2005). He completed an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at University of Wisconsin, Madison (2006-08) and was Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Policy at Colorado School of Mines in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies (2008-13).
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Madison; PhD University of California, Berkeley; AB Stanford University
Stakeholder and public engagement, Governance of gene drives, Emerging biotechnologies for conservation, Responsible research and innovation
Grants & Projects
- Co-PI National Science Foundation (NSF) – “National Research Traineeship (NRT): Agricultural Biotechnology in our Evolving Food, Energy, and Water Systems (AgBioFEWS),” Sep 2018-Aug 2023 ($2,997,865).
Serve on executive committee, recruit and advise students, develop curriculum, and teach semester and summer field courses for three cohorts of PhD fellows.
- Co-PI Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for the Plant Sciences Initiative (GRIP4PSI), North Carolina State University – “Foliar Fungal Endophytes for Enhanced Crop Sustainability (FUN-CROPS),” Feb 2020-Jun 2023 ($556,250).
Coordinate policy analysis and stakeholder interviews; manage postdoctoral researcher; mentor affiliated graduate students.
- PI National Science Foundation (NSF) – “Collaborative Research: Responsible Innovation with Genetically Modified American Chestnut Trees,” Aug 2016-Jul 2021 (SES-1632670: $320,000 including external collaborators; $291,974 awarded to NCSU).
- PI National Park Service – “Free-Ranging and Feral Cats in National Parks: Development of Park Management Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement,” Jul 2019-Jul 2021 ($48,488).
- Co-PI United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) – “Municipal Wastewater Application To Forests: Participatory Science To Understand Human Exposure And Risks To Chemical Contaminants Of Concern,” May 2016-Dec 2020 ($484,990).
Lead research of all social science and participatory science components, including development of Participatory Leadership Team (community officials and expert stakeholders) and Community Involvement Group (community residents).
- Co-PI Wellcome Trust – “Talking about Gene Drive: An Exploration of Language to Enable Understanding and Deliberation in Africa, Europe, North America and Australasia,” May 2019-Oct 2020 ($125,000).
Coordinate data collection in North America, participate in project team meetings, analysis, and publications.
- Co-PI Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) – “Restoring Ecosystems and Biodiversity through Development of Safe and Effective Gene Drive Technologies,” May 2017-Jun 2019 ($3,199,440 including external collaborators; $936,603 awarded directly to NCSU).
Lead research of all stakeholder engagement activities, including coordination of consultants from Arizona State University and Keystone Policy Center.
- Co-PI United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) – “Assessing Public Perceptions of Gene Drives for Invasive Species and Pest Control,” Jul 2017-Jun 2019 ($100,000).
Collaborate on focus group and survey design and analysis, human subjects approvals, and manuscript development.
- Quoted in Associated Press (syndicated and re-published in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and many other outlets), “High-tech chestnuts: US to genetically altered tree” (November 6, 2019)
- Interviewed for BioScience Talks, the podcast of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, “Threshold-Dependent Gene Drives in Wild Populations” (October 8, 2019)
- Quoted in College of Natural Resources News, “Public Support for Gene Drives in Agriculture Tied to Limits” (September 11, 2019) [republished in Science Daily, Futurity, Phys.org, and WRAL TechWire]
- Featured in The Academic Minute [podcast] (July 8, 2019), played on WAMC radio and published on Inside Higher Ed.
- Featured in College of Natural Resources News, “Can Genetic Engineering Save Our Planet’s Biodiversity?” (June 24, 2019)
- Quoted in Independent, “Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout the US to save dying forests” (February 16, 2019)
- Essay requested by The Conversation, published as “Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests?” (January 18, 2019) (republished by at least 24 outlets, including Discover Magazine, Newsweek, and the San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate)
- Quoted in Scientific American, “Biotech Could Modify Trees to Protect Against Pests” (January 10, 2019)
- Featured in ECOS eNews (published by CSIRO), “Transparency in science: Talking about the potential of gene editing for conservation” (December 11, 2018)
- Quoted in Gizmodo, “Scathing Report Accuses the Pentagon of Developing an Agricultural Bioweapon” (October 4, 2018)
- Quoted in 合成生物学の衝撃 (The Impact of Synthetic Biology, April 2018), book written by Momoko Suda, Japanese visiting fellow to the Genetic Engineering and Society Center in 2016-17.
- Quoted in New York Times, “Gene Drives are too Risky for Field Trials, Scientists say” (November 16, 2017)
- Quoted in Quanta, “New Model Warns about CRISPR Gene Drives in the Wild” (November 16, 2017)
- Quoted in Gizmodo, “Genetically Engineering the Natural World, it Turns Out, Could Be a Disaster” (November 16, 2017)
- Mentioned in Scientific American, “Could Genetic Engineering Save the Galapagos?” (November 1, 2017)
- Quoted in Scientific American, “Can Scientists Convince the Public to Accept CRISPR and Gene Drives?” (October 1, 2017)
- Quoted in New York Times, “Species-wide Gene Editing, Applauded and Feared, Gets a Push” [first published as “Panel Endorses ‘Gene Drive’ Technology That Can Alter Entire Species”] (June 8, 2016)
- Quoted in Science Magazine, “U.S. Academies gives cautious go-ahead to gene drive” (June 8, 2016)
- Quoted in Associated Press (syndicated and re-published in many outlets), “Malaria-proof mosquito? Tool promising but needs more study” (June 8, 2016)
- Featured in NC State News, “Keeping up with the fast-moving science of gene drives” (June 8, 2016)
- University Faculty Scholar – North Carolina State University (2019)
- Outstanding Global Engagement Award (Finalist) – North Carolina State University (2019)
- Faculty Research and Professional Development Award – North Carolina State University (2015)
- David Edge Prize – Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). “Awarded annually for the best article in the area of science and technology studies.” (2010)
2020 Delborne, J.A., Kokotovich, A., and Lunshof, J. “Social license and synthetic biology: The trouble with mining terms,” Journal of Responsible Innovation. https://doi.org/10.1080/23299460.2020.1738023
2020 Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Rivers, L. and Delborne, J.A. “Rooted in Recognition: Indigenous Environmental Justice and the Genetically Engineered American Chestnut Tree,” Society and Natural Resources 33(1): 83-100. https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920.2019.1685145
2020 Kokotovich, A., Delborne, J., Elsensohn, J., and Burrack, H. “Emerging technologies for invasive insects: The role of engagement,” Annals of the Entomological Society of America, saz064. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/saz064
2019 Barnes, J.C., Pitts, E.A., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., and Delborne, J.A. “Genetic Engineering and Society,” in Science, Technology and Society: New Perspectives and Directions, T.L. Pittinsky (ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, pp. 203-33. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316691489.009
2019 George, D.R., Kuiken, T., and Delborne, J.A. “Articulating Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Engineered Gene Drives,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286(1917). http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.1484
2019 Backus, G.A. and Delborne, J.A. “Threshold-Dependent Gene Drives in the Wild: Spread, Controllability, and Ecological Uncertainty,” BioScience 69 (11): 900–907. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz098 [Designated “Editor’s Choice” for November 2019 issue of BioScience]
2019 Jones, M.S., Delborne, J.A., Elsensohn, J., Mitchell, P.D., and Brown, Z.S., “Does the US public support using gene drives in agriculture? And what do they want to know?” Science Advances 5(9): eaau8462. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aau8462
2019 Barnes, J.C. and Delborne, J.A. “Rethinking restoration targets for American chestnut using species distribution modeling,” Biodiversity and Conservation 28(12): 3199-3220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-019-01814-8
2019 Barnhill-Dilling, S.K. and Delborne, J.A. The genetically engineered American chestnut tree as opportunity for reciprocal restoration in Haudenosaunee communities. Biological Conservation 232: 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.018
2019 Delborne, J.A. Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests? The Conversation, January 18, 2019. https://theconversation.com/can-genetic-engineering-save-disappearing-forests-109793
2019 Farooque, M., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Shapiro, J., and Delborne, J. Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives on the Development of a Gene Drive Mouse for Biodiversity Protection on Islands (Workshop Report). http://go.ncsu.edu/ges-gene-drive-workshop
2018 Delborne, J.A., Kuzma, J., Gould, F., Frow, E., Leitschuh, C., and Sudweeks, J. (Eds.), Roadmap to Gene Drives: Research and Governance Needs in Social, Political, and Ecological Contexts [special issue], The Journal of Responsible Innovation, 5 (sup1). Routledge/Taylor and Francis. https://tandfonline.com/toc/tjri20/5/sup1?nav=tocList&
2018 Delborne, J.A., Kokotovich, A.E., and Barnhill-Dilling, S.K. Letters: Engaging Community with Humility. Science, 362(6414), 532-33. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aav4987
2018 Stirling, A., Hayes, K. R., & Delborne, J. Towards Inclusive Social Appraisal: Risk, Participation and Democracy in Governance of Synthetic Biology. BMC Proceedings, 12(Suppl 8):15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12919-018-0111-3
2018 Delborne, J.A., Binder, A.R., Rivers, L., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Barnes, J.C., George, D., Kokotovich, A., and Sudweeks, J. Biotechnology, the American Chestnut Tree, and Public Engagement (Workshop Report). Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University. http://go.ncsu.edu/ges-chestnut-report
2016 Kaebnick, G. E., Heitman, E., Collins, J. P., Delborne, J. A., Landis, W. G., Sawyer, K., Tanneyhill, L., and Winickoff, D. E. Precaution and governance of emerging technologies. Science, 354(6313), 710-711. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aah5125