Dr. Hill Craddock

The Return of the Chestnut: A Tree Crop Archetype

In 1904 a terrible pandemic struck the American chestnut, one of worst ecological disasters of the 20th century. Much scientific effort has been the focused on breeding a tree that combines disease resistance with timber form and other important adaptive characteristics. Our advanced hybrids are highly blight resistant. For the first time in history we may be able to reintroduce these trees into the forest in a way that will allow them to reproduce on their own and to continue their evolution. The return of the chestnut tree to the forest will depend on the concerted efforts of citizens, and scientists working together.


About Dr. Hill

Dr. Hill Craddock is the Robert M. Davenport Professor in Biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. He grew up in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, son of a marine biologist father and an emergency room nurse mother, and went to sea for the first time at age 16, working summers on commercial fishing boats. He grew his first chestnut tree from a seed he planted at age 15, and he is still a chestnut enthusiast. He moved to Italy in 1987 where he and his wife Paola helped run her family's restaurant business. They moved with their son Emilio to Tennessee in November of 1994. Dr. Craddock's current research is focused on the restoration of the American chestnut to the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem and the establishment of a commercial chestnut industry in Tennessee. His project areas include breeding for resistance to chestnut blight and phytophthora root rot, Castanea germplasm collection and characterization, and chestnut cultivar evaluations.

Dr. Craddock completed doctoral and postdoctoral research on hazelnut and chestnut biology at the Universita' di Torino in Turin, Italy, before conducting research on anthracnose-resistant dogwood cultivars and on evaluating chestnut cultivars at the Tennessee State University/USDA-ARS Nursery Crop Research Station in McMinnville, Tennessee. He has been teaching introductory biology, mycology (the study of fungi; mushrooms, molds and yeasts), dendrology (the study of trees), and economic botany (the evolution and domestication of cultivated plants) at UTC since 1996. His research is supported, in part, by the Summerfield Johnston Endowment for the Restoration of the American Chestnut, The American Chestnut Foundation, the Bettie J. Smith LLC, and Dollywood.

Dr. Hill Craddock

Professor of Biological
and Environmental Sciences,
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Director at Chattanooga
Chestnut Tree Project