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Robert R. Wise, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Office: Room 16, Halsey Science Center
Phone: (920) 424-3404
Fax: (920) 424-1101



  • Ph.D.  1986, Plant Physiology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
  • M.S.  1981, Botany, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
  • B.S.  1977, Biology, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point


Teaching Experience

  • Introductory Biology:  Unity (Bio 105)
  • Introductory Biology:  Diversity (Bio 106)
  • Honors Biology (Bio 108)
  • Biology of Plant and Microbes (Bio 231)
  • Introductory Cell and Molecular Biology (Bio 323)
  • Plant Anatomy (Bio 337/537)
  • Plant Physiology (Bio 345/545)
  • Electron Microscopy Techniques (Bio 350/550)
  • Senior Capstone Course (Bio 491)
  • Advanced Topics in Plant Stress Physiology (Bio 766)
  • Advanced Topics in Bioenergetics (Bio 766)


Professional Experience


1978 Coordinator of Electron Microscopy Laboratory and Course, Department of Biology, UW Stevens Point.
1980-1984 Teaching Assistant, Department of Botany, Duke University.
1984-1986 Research Assistant, Department of Botany, Duke University.
1986-1989 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Photosynthesis Research Group, USDA/ARS, University of Illinois.
1989-1990 Postdoctoral Research Associate, McKnight Foundation and Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois.
Fall, 1990 Visiting Lecturer, Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois.
1991-1993 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin Madison.
1993-1999 Assistant Professor, Department of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
1999-2004 Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Microbiology, UW Oshkosh
2001-2002 Honorary Fellow of Botany (sabbatical position), Department of Botany, UW Madison
2004-present Professor, Department of Biology and Microbiology, UW Oshkosh
2005-2009 F. John Barlow Endowed Professorship
2010 Recipient of the Edward M. Penson Distinguished Teaching Award
2011-2012 Visiting Sabbatical Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, UW Madison
2012-present Distinguished Professor of Botany, Department of Biology, UW Oshkosh
2012-2013 Interim Director, Office of Grants and Faculty Director, UW Oshkosh
2014-2016 Regional Associate, Wisconsin System Technology Foundation


Research Interests

My interest in plant biology started in the spring of 1976 when I took a course in electron microscopy techniques from Dr. Joe Harris at UW Stevens Point. Joe is a true gentleman, a great scientist and a wonderful mentor. He introduced me to the fascinating world of plant physiology, in general, and chloroplast biology, in particular. Thirty years later, that interest culminated in the 2006 publication of a 575-page volume titled “The Structure and Function of Plastids”, co-edited by myself and Dr. Ken Hoober (Univesity of Arizona). The Plastids book is volume 23 in the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration series, edited by Govindjee.

Wise_book cover.jpgClick on the book cover to view the Table of Contents. This multi-author book is the first comprehensive treatment of plastid biology since J.T.O. Kirk and R.A.E Tilney-Bassett published their seminal volume in 1967 (with a revised edition in 1978).

My research for the past 30 years has focused on photosynthesis, particularly the impact of environmental stresses such as cold, heat and drought. Average crop yields in the United States are only one sixth to one seventh of record yields, and environmental stress is the cause of most of the reduction. Unlike animals, plants are largely unable to escape from environmental stresses. Therefore, they have developed unique biochemical and bioenergetic coping mechanisms, which make for scientifically fascinating and agronomically important areas of research.

A second area of research in my laboratory is the relationship between the regulation of photosynthesis and chloroplast ultrastructure. Phil Rozak, a masters student graduate from my lab, demonstrated that chloroplast thylakoid stacking can change significantly with a mere 10 minute increase or decrease in light intensity. This structural rearrangement has a direct impact on photosynthetic regulation, particularly in connection to state changes.

An interesting side trip took me into the fascinating world of the Lemnaceae (duckweed family), a unique group of floating, aquatic plants. Members of the genus Wolffia of the family Lemnaceae are the smallest flowering plants in the world.  Mature adults are only about half of a millimeter in diameter. At least 11 Lemnaceae species are found in Wisconsin, out of a worldwide total of about 34 species.  Although the Lemnaceae are members of the Division Anthophyta (flowering plants) they rarely flower in nature and rely instead on budding (asexual) reproduction.

I had a productive sabbatical during the 2001/2002 academic year in the laboratories of Dr. Tom Sharkey at the University of Wisconsin Madison and Dr. Don Ort at the University of Illinois studying heat stress effects on photosynthesis. Field research was conducted in Maricopa, Ariz. with Dr. Richard Percy at the Maricopa Agricultural Center.



(names in bold are undergraduate or graduate students)

  • Wise, R.R. 2016. Plastids: The anabolic factories of plants.  In: Bradshaw, R.R., P. Stahl and T. Yoshimori (eds.), Encyclopedia of Cell Biology, Vol 2, Waltham, MA; Academic Press, pp. 324-330
  • Song, J., B.D. Keppler, R.R. Wise and A.F. Bent.  2015.  PARP2 is the predominant poly(ADP-Ribose) polymerase in Arabidopsis DNA damage and immune responses. PLOS Genetics.  11(5) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005200.


Masters Students Graduated From My Laboratory

  • Heidi A. Kratsch.  Evidence for actin-based chloroplast movement in leaves of Pisum sativum. Defended July 25, 2000.
  • Phillip R. Rozak.  Alterations in thylakoid membrane ultrastructure of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) accompany state changes.  Defended September 6, 2000.
  • Jennifer Freund.  Cold temperature and light-induced chloroplast movement in chilling-sensitive and chilling-resistant plants.  Defended May 1, 2001.
  • Ralph D. Hollander. Effect of leaf temperature on photosynthesis under elevated carbon dioxide in Populus tremuloides.  Defended May 19, 2006.


Professional Activities

Member, Editorial Board of Environmental and Experimental Botany (1994 to 2015)

Ad hoc reviewer of manuscripts or grant applications submitted to Agricultural Meteorology and Forestry, American Journal of Botany, Annals of Botany, Applied Statistics in Agriculture, Botanical Bulletin of Academia Sinica, Canadian Journal of Botany, Environmental and Experimental Botany, Field Crops Research, Functional Plant Biology, Global Change Biology, International Journal of Plant Science, International Science and Technology Center, Civilian Research and Development Foundation, Journal of Experimental Botany, Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, Journal of Plant Physiology, Journal of Plant Growth Regulation, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, McIlvanea, Midwest Microscopy, National Science Foundation (IPB, ILI, RUI), North Dakota EPSCoR Program, Photosynthesis Research, Physiologia Plantarum, Plant Biology, Plant and Cell Physiology, Plant, Cell & Environment, Plant Growth Regulation, Plant Physiology, Plant Science, Planta, Southwest Consortium on Plant Genetics and Water Resources, Systematic Botany, United States Civilian Research & Development Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, US/Israel Bilateral Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), UW Oshkosh Faculty Development Board, UW System Applied Research Grant Program, Wetlands Ecology and Management.