Credit: Christopher Michel

Jason Delborne

Professor of Science, Policy, and Society; University Faculty Scholar; GES Center Executive Committee Member

Forestry and Environmental Resources, College of Natural Resources


Faculty page: | Email: | Phone: (919) 515-0106 | Twitter: @jasondelborne | CV


Dr. Jason A. Delborne is Professor of Science, Policy, and Society and University Faculty Scholar at North Carolina State University. Appointed in 2013 to the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and the Genetic Engineering and Society Center, Delborne teaches and conducts research at the intersection of environmental policy, biotechnology, and public engagement. He draws upon the highly interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS) to engage qualitative research methodologies to explore how policymakers, stakeholders and members of the public interface with emerging biotechnologies designed for environmental benefit.

Recent projects have focused on the genetically engineered chestnut tree, a gene drive mouse for biodiversity conservation, and the management of free ranging cats in National Parks. Delborne was twice appointed to expert committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), which published Gene Drives on the Horizon (2016) and Forest Health and Biotechnology (2019). He serves on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation, which published Genetic Frontiers for Conservation (2019). His academic scholarship includes over 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, appearing in journals such as Science, Social Studies of Science, BioScience, and Public Understanding of Science. Delborne holds a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University (1993) and a doctorate in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley (2005). He completed an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at University of Wisconsin, Madison (2006-08) and was Assistant Professor of Science, Technology, and Policy at Colorado School of Mines in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies (2008-13).


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Madison; PhD University of California, Berkeley; AB Stanford University


Stakeholder and public engagement, Governance of gene drives, Emerging biotechnologies for conservation, Responsible research and innovation

Grants & Projects

  • Co-PI National Science Foundation (NSF) – “National Research Traineeship (NRT): Agricultural Biotechnology in our Evolving Food, Energy, and Water Systems (AgBioFEWS),” Sep 2018-Aug 2023 ($2,997,865).
    Serve on executive committee, recruit and advise students, develop curriculum, and teach semester and summer field courses for three cohorts of PhD fellows.
  • Co-PI Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for the Plant Sciences Initiative (GRIP4PSI), North Carolina State University – “Foliar Fungal Endophytes for Enhanced Crop Sustainability (FUN-CROPS),” Feb 2020-Jun 2023 ($556,250).
    Coordinate policy analysis and stakeholder interviews; manage postdoctoral researcher; mentor affiliated graduate students.
  • PI National Science Foundation (NSF) – “Collaborative Research: Responsible Innovation with Genetically Modified American Chestnut Trees,” Aug 2016-Jul 2021 (SES-1632670: $320,000 including external collaborators; $291,974 awarded to NCSU).
  • PI National Park Service – “Free-Ranging and Feral Cats in National Parks: Development of Park Management Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement,” Jul 2019-Jul 2021 ($48,488).
  • Co-PI United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) – “Municipal Wastewater Application To Forests: Participatory Science To Understand Human Exposure And Risks To Chemical Contaminants Of Concern,” May 2016-Dec 2020 ($484,990).
    Lead research of all social science and participatory science components, including development of Participatory Leadership Team (community officials and expert stakeholders) and Community Involvement Group (community residents).
  • Co-PI Wellcome Trust – “Talking about Gene Drive: An Exploration of Language to Enable Understanding and Deliberation in Africa, Europe, North America and Australasia,” May 2019-Oct 2020 ($125,000).
    Coordinate data collection in North America, participate in project team meetings, analysis, and publications.
  • Co-PI Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) – “Restoring Ecosystems and Biodiversity through Development of Safe and Effective Gene Drive Technologies,” May 2017-Jun 2019 ($3,199,440 including external collaborators; $936,603 awarded directly to NCSU).
    Lead research of all stakeholder engagement activities, including coordination of consultants from Arizona State University and Keystone Policy Center.
  • Co-PI United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) – “Assessing Public Perceptions of Gene Drives for Invasive Species and Pest Control,” Jul 2017-Jun 2019 ($100,000).
    Collaborate on focus group and survey design and analysis, human subjects approvals, and manuscript development.

Featured In

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  • University Faculty Scholar – North Carolina State University (2019)
  • Outstanding Global Engagement Award (Finalist) – North Carolina State University (2019)
  • Faculty Research and Professional Development Award – North Carolina State University (2015)
  • David Edge Prize – Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). “Awarded annually for the best article in the area of science and technology studies.” (2010)

Highlighted Publications

See all publications on NC State ORCID or search GES Faculty Publications >

2020 Delborne, J.A., Kokotovich, A., and Lunshof, J. “Social license and synthetic biology: The trouble with mining terms,” Journal of Responsible Innovation.

2020 Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Rivers, L. and Delborne, J.A. “Rooted in Recognition: Indigenous Environmental Justice and the Genetically Engineered American Chestnut Tree,” Society and Natural Resources 33(1): 83-100.

2020 Kokotovich, A., Delborne, J., Elsensohn, J., and Burrack, H. “Emerging technologies for invasive insects: The role of engagement,” Annals of the Entomological Society of America, saz064.

2019 Barnes, J.C., Pitts, E.A., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., and Delborne, J.A. “Genetic Engineering and Society,” in Science, Technology and Society: New Perspectives and Directions, T.L. Pittinsky (ed.). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, pp. 203-33.

2019 George, D.R., Kuiken, T., and Delborne, J.A. “Articulating Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Engineered Gene Drives,” Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286(1917).

2019 Backus, G.A. and Delborne, J.A. “Threshold-Dependent Gene Drives in the Wild: Spread, Controllability, and Ecological Uncertainty,” BioScience 69 (11): 900–907. [Designated “Editor’s Choice” for November 2019 issue of BioScience]

2019 Jones, M.S., Delborne, J.A., Elsensohn, J., Mitchell, P.D., and Brown, Z.S., “Does the US public support using gene drives in agriculture? And what do they want to know?” Science Advances 5(9): eaau8462.

2019 Barnes, J.C. and Delborne, J.A. “Rethinking restoration targets for American chestnut using species distribution modeling,” Biodiversity and Conservation 28(12): 3199-3220.

2019 Barnhill-Dilling, S.K. and Delborne, J.A. The genetically engineered American chestnut tree as opportunity for reciprocal restoration in Haudenosaunee communities. Biological Conservation 232: 1-7.

2019 Delborne, J.A. Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests? The Conversation, January 18, 2019.

2019 Farooque, M., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Shapiro, J., and Delborne, J. Exploring Stakeholder Perspectives on the Development of a Gene Drive Mouse for Biodiversity Protection on Islands (Workshop Report).

2018 Delborne, J.A., Kuzma, J., Gould, F., Frow, E., Leitschuh, C., and Sudweeks, J. (Eds.), Roadmap to Gene Drives: Research and Governance Needs in Social, Political, and Ecological Contexts [special issue], The Journal of Responsible Innovation, 5 (sup1). Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

2018 Delborne, J.A., Kokotovich, A.E., and Barnhill-Dilling, S.K. Letters: Engaging Community with Humility. Science, 362(6414), 532-33.

2018 Stirling, A., Hayes, K. R., & Delborne, J. Towards Inclusive Social Appraisal: Risk, Participation and Democracy in Governance of Synthetic Biology. BMC Proceedings, 12(Suppl 8):15.

2018 Delborne, J.A., Binder, A.R., Rivers, L., Barnhill-Dilling, S.K., Barnes, J.C., George, D., Kokotovich, A., and Sudweeks, J. Biotechnology, the American Chestnut Tree, and Public Engagement (Workshop Report). Genetic Engineering and Society Center, North Carolina State University.

2016 Kaebnick, G. E., Heitman, E., Collins, J. P., Delborne, J. A., Landis, W. G., Sawyer, K., Tanneyhill, L., and Winickoff, D. E. Precaution and governance of emerging technologies. Science, 354(6313), 710-711.