David Knaff, Ph.D
Director - Center for Biotechnology & Genomics
Horn Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Room: CHEM 417
Phone: (806) 834-6892
Paul W. Horn Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
David Knaff has served as a faculty member at Texas Tech since 1976 and was the founding director of what was then the Institute for Biotechnology in 1988. Except for the 6 years from 1990 to 1996, when he served as the department chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry, he has served continuously as the director of the Center. His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of multiple-electron transfer reactions in photosynthetic systems, with a particular emphasis on reactions involved in the early stages of nitrate and sulfate assimilation, and in the redox regulation of carbon metabolism in plants. An additional major focus involves mapping the details of the interaction surfaces that participate in the formation of protein/protein complexes. After an excellent secondary school introduction to science at the Bronx High School of Science, he obtained the B.S. in Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962, followed by M.S. (1963) and Ph.D. (1966) degrees in Chemistry at Yale University, where he was a National Science Foundation Predoctoral fellow. After completing his education in chemistry, he transitioned into biochemistry, first as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley and then as a staff scientist in cell physiology at Berkeley, before moving to Texas Tech in 1976.
Prof. Knaff is the author of more than 225 scientific articles and has co-authored a graduate-level textbook in the area of bioenergetics. His research has been supported continuously by federal granting agencies for 43 years. He has served on numerous federal panels and spent one year as a competitive grant program director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He has served as a visiting distinguished professor at universities in The Netherlands, France and Switzerland and has served, since 2,000, as the editor-in-chief of the international journal, Photosynthesis Research.