Jody Jellison



I was born in 1955. My relatives on my father’s side (the Jellisons) came from the central Maine area where they had been since the 1800’s primarily scraping together a living farming potatoes. My Grandfather migrated in the early 1900’s to the “city” of Bangor and became a mailman. My mother’s family came over from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania. I lived briefly as a young child along with my mother in Pennsylvania with my Grandparents on my mother’s side while my father finished his PhD. Subsequently our family moved to New Hampshire where my father started a career as a History Professor. The family grew to include my younger brother and sister. Growing up I was a rather quiet and boring child. I enjoyed ice skating on the pond, drawing, my pumpkin garden, swimming and reading. My teen years included time spent in Southern Africa while my father was on an extended sabbatical.


I started college at McGill university in Montreal but transferred to the University of New Hampshire where I received my BS in Plant Pathology (and took plant anatomy classes with Barry Goodell who I became quite fond of). While a student at UNH I worked in a wood science laboratory doing ring angle analysis and later worked for Dr. Al Shigo of the US Forest Service. I received a Masters in Plant Pathology with a minor in statistics in 1979 and subsequently my PhD in Plant Virology with a minor in Biochem/Biophysics in 1983 from Oregon State University. My post-doc was in immunology and plant pathology at Harvard University. I joined Barry at University of Maine as a Research Professor in 1985 and continued at UMaine until leaving in 2011 as a Full Professor and the School Director for Biology and Ecology.

While at UMaine my research area focused on fungal metabolism and ecology. Highlights of my career include research leaves and sabbaticals in Japan, Sweden, Chile and Germany interacting with many wonderful national and international colleagues and friends. From 2011-2015 I was the Associate Director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and from 2016 on I have been the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Agricultural Research and Engagement at the University of Massachusetts. I continue to have an interest in biodegradation and fungal mechanisms and to enjoy the opportunity to participate in meetings.


My first IRG meeting was in 1987 in Honey Harbour, Canada. We went as a family with our 2 year old! Since then I have attended many IRG meetings, both with and without kids, enjoying the science, the locations and especially seeing old and new friends. Special meetings include 1991 in Kyoto, 2000 in Hawaii, 2002 in Cardiff, where we got to see a “football/soccer” match and our boys played soccer in the hotel lobby, the dragons in Ljubijana, Tromso, Istanbul (I still wear my beautiful scarves), Biarritz, the scary bridge on the field trip in Malaysia, Lisbon of course, Jo-burg and so many more. A sincere thank you to all of you who helped organize these wonderful meetings.


Barry (Goodell) and I have been married since 1979. We have two boys, Nate and Matt, who when younger, accompanied us to many IRG meetings. Nate is working as an engineer and is married to a veterinarian and living in rural New York. Matt is a marketing director and lives with his physician wife in Vermont. They have an exceptionally cute little girl “Rory” who will be having her first birthday soon. Barry is a Professor in the Microbiology department and I continue serving as the Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Agriculture at UMass. We spend our time between our home in Massachusetts and extended visits to our home in Maine for the holidays and for our summertime adventures at camp. Outside of work, I enjoy skating (poorly), contradancing, reading, playing the fiddle (poorly), holiday traditions, knitting (sometimes), swimming in the ocean (Hawaii and the lake in Maine), tea and cookies, and family visits with our kids! Hope to see everyone at a future IRG meeting.


This bio was written for the February 2021 IRG Newsletter.