Dr. Chris Frost is a chemical ecologist interested in the basic and applied aspects of plant defense chemistry, with a particular fondness for volatile compounds that generate the distinct odors of plants. He also has an established (published) interest in promoting citizen science cultivating widespread understanding of the importance of science in our everyday lives.
Dr. Frost’s long-term research program is to understand the fundamental physiology and evolution of plant defense chemistry, inducible resistance, and “memory” formation. Dr. Frost’s main research basic research interest centers on the observation that plants are dynamic and can sense and react to their environment. Plants have evolved sophisticated chemical defense strategies to resist or tolerate environmental stress and that can be induced by stress, while they also must maintain the basic chemistry necessary for life. Dr. Frost is interested in how plant’s strike biochemical balances, respond to stress, and use ecological cues from their environment to predict and prepare for future conditions. Dr. Frost’s interest in basic chemical ecology leads to his two main applied interests: (1) sustainable agriculture and (2) identification of natural products. First, he is investigating how chemical cues can boost plant innate immunity against biotic and abiotic stress, applying principles from plant ecological research to help meet the challenges facing agricultural production. Second, approximately 40% of modern drugs are derived from plants. Dr. Frost has worked in collaboration with cancer biologists to identify plant-derived terpenes that affect the growth and survival of breast cancer tumor cells.