He is one of 19 new faculty members that were recently hired in the college. New positions were identified to bring new talent to its focus areas, including food and health, infectious disease, biodesign and processing, and agricultural profitability and environmental sustainability. The new faculty members are distributed across teaching, research, and Extension.
Haak received his Ph.D. in biology from University of Washington, and his master's degree in crop science and bachelor's degree in biology from North Carolina State University.
Evolutionary ecological genomics forms the basis for Haak’s research. Within this field, he is interested in identifying the genetic basis of plant adaptation to biotic stress (for example, pests) and abiotic stress (drought), with particular interest in understanding how plant defense traits are shaped by ecological and environmental conditions, pertinent in a changing climate.
To understand how biotic and abiotic conditions shape adaptive responses, he uses manipulative field and greenhouse studies, genetic and genomic approaches, and physiology and analytical chemistry techniques. Haak’s research is centered in wild crop relatives, providing key insights in ecological and evolutionary processes as well as resources for crop improvement.
He has received awards from the University of Washington, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the North Carolina Governor's office, among others.