Interim Dean Peter W. Atkinson


Peter W. Atkinson

UC Riverside’s College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences Interim Dean Peter W. Atkinson, a Professor of Genetics in the Department of Entomology, joined UCR in 1997. Prior to his tenure at UC Riverside, he was a senior research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Canberra, Australia. A first-generation college student, Atkinson earned his Ph.D. and B.S., with honors, from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Since joining UC Riverside, Atkinson has served in a number of administrative roles within the college, campus, and the University of California system. He has served as served as Deputy and Interim Director of the Institute of Integrative Genome Biology; Director of the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Cell, Molecular, and Development Biology; Director of the Center for Vector Research; Chair of the Institutional Biosafety Committee; Divisional Dean of Life Sciences; and Chair of the Senate Committee on Planning and Budget.

Atkinson’s work internationally includes serving on various Research Coordination Committees of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) aimed at developing molecular biological approaches that would augment the efficacy of ionizing radiation-based methods for pest insect control.

Atkinson’s research focuses on developing and implementing genetic control strategies in pest insects. These area-wide strategies provide environmentally friendly alternatives to the use of conventional approaches. His work identified new transposable elements which were used to introduce genetic sequences into pest insects, such as mosquitoes, as well as into human cell culture. CRISPR-based technology now provides the specificity needed to generate targeted changes to pest insect genomes and so has been transformative in its application to genetic control approaches. Atkinson has joined with colleagues within CNAS to extend genetic control strategies into sap-feeding insect pests of agriculture, notably whiteflies, which are a global pest, and glassy-winged sharpshooters, an invasive pest of California.



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