MTV News Interviews Ohio Wesleyan Professor Chris Wolverton about Giant Beanstalks

Chris Wolverton

Chris Wolverton

DELAWARE, Ohio – Is the concept of a giant beanstalk rooted in reality? MTV News recently posed that question (and more) to scientists including Ohio Wesleyan University’s Chris Wolverton, Ph.D., associate professor of botany/microbiology. 

Writer Amy Wilkinson interviewed Wolverton in connection with the release of the new feature film “Jack The Giant Slayer,” which she describes as “an action-heavy re-imagining of the classic fairy tale.”

Wolverton, a member of the Ohio Wesleyan faculty since 2002, teaches courses on plant physiology, cell biology, and genetics, and conducts research on plant responses to stimuli such as gravity and light. He says a giant beanstalk wouldn’t be able to support itself, but the concept is intriguing.

“As I was watching the trailer, I was sort of thinking in kind of metaphorical literary terms,” Wolverton told MTV News. “This beanstalk sort of represents this passage to another world, and immediately called to mind the Redwood because the ecology that’s happening in the crown of the Redwood tree up at the top – in other words, where the leaves are – is almost totally foreign and shocking. It’s like another world. … There are scientists who have actually started scaling these trees on ropes and studying. There are insects and there are fungi and there are things going on up there that are completely another world. There’s no other way to put it.”

Read the full MTV News article, “What If ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ Wasn’t Just A Fairy Tale?” Learn more about Wolverton’s plant research and Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Botany/Microbiology.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at

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