May/June 2017

Volume 44, Issue 3


President’s Letter: How Should We Speak Up?

President’s Letter

The Many Legacies of ASPB

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

At ASPB, so much has changed over the past few years. Our flagship journals are now online-only and offer open access options; we welcome the initiation of our new journal, Plant Direct; and ASPB is set to better interconnect its members with the larger plant science community by way of the Plantae digital ecosystem. The Society stands behind a new annual meeting in phenomics, and it is playing a growing role in helping support meetings for a number of plant science groups. ASPB has recently expanded its outreach activities to represent and inform plant scientists, sponsoring the first and second plant science research summits, the development and promotion of the Decadal Vision document, and subsequent plant science community efforts to build consensus plans for research, graduate student and postdoctoral training, and cyberinfrastructure.

If ASPB is to continue its leadership role in plant biology, additional financial resources will be needed to sustain these activities. Library subscriptions continue to be the largest revenue source for ASPB. But pressure from governments around the world to implement open access publication of publicly funded research, coupled with declining congressional support for basic research and state support for public universities, has influenced those revenues, compelling the Society to seek other ways to ensure it remains fiscally sound. Consequently, ASPB is creating a mix of revenue sources that will allow it to continue its many good works. Among the funding opportunities being developed as ASPB approaches its centenary in 2024, all aimed at ensuring the Society’s financial stability and longevity, is a plan to increase its endowment fund.

As the first step to enhance the ASPB endowment account, we have created the ASPB Legacy Society, modeled after similar initiatives at the Botanical Society of America ( and the American Phytopathological Society ( Investment income generated by Legacy Society funds will be used to support innovative programs and activities at ASPB related to education and outreach, publishing, community expansion and engagement, and, of course, professional development for future generations of plant biologists.

To help create the Legacy Society, a group of long-standing, prominent ASPB members were invited to become Founding Members by making a contribution of at least $5,000, either in cash or as a legacy gift. The names of those who chose to do so are listed below, and their biographies will appear in upcoming issues of the ASPB News and provide the foundation for creating an ASPB academic family tree that will be presented at the Society’s 100th anniversary meeting in 2024.

Boosted by the generosity and commitment of these Founding Members, the ASPB Legacy Society is now open to all members of the Society. By making your own commitment to become a member of the ASPB Legacy Society, you help pave the way for ASPB’s future success, moving us toward our goal of doubling the existing endowment and investment account by the Society’s 100th anniversary. You can join the Legacy Society at a variety of financial levels, and your membership will be recognized in the online ASPB Directory. Broad-based support for Legacy Society membership will also help ASPB acquire additional financial support from industry and private foundations.

Please consider becoming a member of the ASPB Legacy Society. By doing so, you help maintain ASPB as the leading society in plant biology research.

ASPB Legacy Society Founding Members

Charlie Arntzen

Sally Assmann

Bonnie Bartel

Wendy Boss

Becky Boston

John Boyer

Mark Brodl

Dan Bush

Judy Callis

Nick Carpita

Alice Cheung

Maarten Chrispeels

Jerry Cohen

Gloria Coruzzi

Daniel Cosgrove

John Cushman

Debby Delmer

Machi Dilworth

Rick Dixon

Gerry Edwards

Beth Gantt

Robert Giaquinta

Robert Goldberg

Pam Green

Mary Lou Guerinot

Tom Guilfoyle *

Gretchen Hagen

Sarah Hake

Maureen Hanson

John Harada

Jeff Harper

Ann Hirsch

Tom Hodges

Beth Hood

Mark Jacobs

Andre Jagendorf *

Russ Jones

Stefan Kirchanski

Harry Klee

Leon Kochian

Brian Larkins

Rob Last

Peggy Lemaux

Sharon Long

Steve Long

Bill Lucas

Sally Mackenzie

Rob McClung

Sabeeha Merchant

Jon Monroe

Gloria Muday

John Mullet

John Ohlrogge

Mel Oliver

Don Ort

Kathy Osteryoung

Ralph Quatrano

Natasha Raihkel

Doug Randall

Stan Roux

Danny Schnell

Lawrence Schrader

Tom Sharkey

Lou Sherman

Jim Siedow

Bijay Singh

Chris Somerville

Shauna Somerville

Edgar Spalding

Gary Stacey

Chris Staiger

Heven Sze

Lincoln Taiz

Elizabeth Vierling

Rick Vierstra

Linda Walling

Sue Wessler

Elli Wurtzel

Maria Elena Zavala

Jian-Kang Zhu




* Deceased

2017 ASPB Election Results

2017 ASPB Election Results

Many thanks to those members who took the time to vote this spring, and hearty congratulations to our new officers! They will begin their service to ASPB on October 1, 2017. Look for more information about our new leaders in the next issue of the ASPB News.

Incoming President-elect
Rob Last
Michigan State University

Incoming Elected Member
Christine Foyer
University of Leeds

ASPB Announces 2017 Award Winners

ASPB Announces 2017 Award Winners

Each year, ASPB honors excellence in research, education, outreach, and service through its numerous awards to individuals who promote the mission of our Society. We are proud to announce this year’s recipients.

ASPB Innovation Prize for Agricultural Technology

Luca Comai, University of California, Davis
Rick DeRose, Syngenta Crop Protection
Georges Freyssinet, Bio-EZ
Ganesh Kishore, Spruce Capital Partners
Stephen R. Padgette, Paine Schwartz Partners
David Stalker, RMIT University

The second ASPB Innovation Prize for Agricultural Technology is awarded jointly to Luca Comai, Rick DeRose, Georges Freyssinet, Ganesh Kishore, Stephen R. Padgette, and David Stalker. Their discoveries about the molecular basis for glyphosate-tolerant mutations in EPSP synthase and their leadership of pioneering research and development teams led to the development of glyphosate-tolerant crops. The herbicide-tolerant crops that resulted from their work and subsequent generations of improved varieties have had a major impact on crop production, have reduced the use of less environmentally benign herbicides, and have facilitated the adoption of no-till and minimum tillage practices that have been important in limiting soil erosion. Their work changed the paradigm for herbicide discovery by eliminating the need to identify compounds that killed weeds but not crops.

Charles Albert Shull Award

Blake C. Meyers, University of Missouri and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Blake C. Meyers is the 2017 recipient of the Charles Albert Shull Award. Blake has been a pioneer in the study of plant RNAs. As a postdoc, he was the first to apply next-gen sequencing to their study, and he has continued to innovate both in chemistry and in bioinformatics while mapping the landscape of small RNAs in more than 30 plant species. Blake’s most recent work on phased secondary small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs) describes a novel set of miRNAs that targets disease resistance genes in dicots and another set that is expressed in grass anthers. Blake is highly collaborative, resulting in the accelerated advancement of research projects around the world.

Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award

Susanne von Caemmerer, Australian National University

The research and service contributions of Susanne von Caemmerer richly justify her receipt of the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award. A member of ASPB for more than 30 years, Susanne has made distinguished contributions to the field of photosynthesis and to the Society. Of particular note is her ability to simplify the complex biochemistry of photosynthesis into powerful equations that can predict photosynthetic properties of systems ranging from single chloroplasts to plant communities. Susanne has been recognized internationally; it is timely that ASPB also acknowledge her many contributions.

Corresponding Membership Award

Corresponding Member status is conferred by election on the annual ballot. This honor, initially given in 1932, provides life membership and Society publications to distinguished plant biologists outside the United States.

John Richard Evans, Australian National University

John Richard Evans, professor at the Research School of Biology, Australian National University, is one of the leading scientists in photosynthesis research. John is particularly recognized for elucidating the diffusion of carbon dioxide within leaves and the nitrogen economy of photosynthesis at the scale of chloroplasts, individual leaves, and plant canopies, which led to the establishment of molecular research aimed at raising crop yields by engineering photosynthesis. John has published 110 peer-reviewed papers and 26 book chapters that are highly cited. He has served on the editorial board of many journals, among them ASPB’s Plant Physiology, for which he has been a monitoring editor since 2007. John has been a member of ASPB since 1982. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2013 and served as president of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists from 2014 to 2016.

Ian Max Møller, Aarhus University

Ian Max Møller, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Science and Technology, Aarhus University, Denmark, is a leader in the enzymology, metabolism, and stress reactions of plant mitochondria and has made outstanding contributions to advancing our understanding of the physiology of plant mitochondria. He has published more than 200 highly cited peer-reviewed papers in leading journals. Max has been an editor with Physiologia Plantarum since 1981, with stints as managing editor and editor-in-chief. He has been a principal in many congresses and meetings, often as a plenary speaker and also as an organizer. Max has been an ASPB member for 30 years and is a frequent attendee at ASPB annual meetings. He has served the field of plant biology in a dedicated and professional manner for many years.

Ekkehard Neuhaus, University of Kaiserslautern

Ekkehard Neuhaus has developed the field of membrane transport significantly. Starting out from the labs of Mark Stitt and Renate Scheibe, he contributed to the advance of plant biochemistry, unraveling in particular the strategies behind plant growth, carbohydrate storage and yield, and aspects of functional evolution. Ekkehard has contributed more than 120 publications in top journals, including six papers describing groundbreaking findings in The Plant Cell. His work is centered around various nucleotide and carbohydrate transporters, some of them newly described. For his scientific achievements and to support his innovative work, Ekkehard received the highly acknowledged Reinhart–Koselleck grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG). He was founding spokesman of DFG-funded research groups and an international graduate college, and he served in the DFG senate and in various other research-oriented commissions. Since 2016, Ekkehard has been a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Early Career Award

Julia Santiago Cuellar, University of Lausanne

The Early Career Award acknowledges outstanding research by a scientist generally not more than seven years post-PhD. Julia Santiago Cuellar is recognized for her exceptional contribution to plant cell signaling, particularly with respect to plant hormone perception. Julia has already made major contributions to our understanding of the structural basis for abscisic acid, brassinosteroid, and peptide hormone perception and signal transduction.

Eric E. Conn Young Investigator Award

Prateek Tripathi, Scripps Research Institute

Prateek Tripathi is recognized for his significant contributions to the field of circadian clock research and for his dedication to student training and mentoring, public service, and outreach. Prateek’s research and high-impact publications have shed light on how key clock genes regulate reproductive development in Arabidopsis. Prateek has also contributed broadly to ASPB activities, including service as an ASPB Ambassador and on the Society’s Membership Committee. He also has taken an active role in teaching and mentoring at his home institution, as well as through the Planting Science initiative. Prateek has received numerous awards for his outstanding outreach and service activities.

Excellence in Education Award

Sarah Wyatt, Ohio University

Sarah Wyatt is recognized for her remarkable contributions over several decades to plant biology education at the K–12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Sarah has developed a wide array of innovative biology course projects that inform and excite students from freshmen to PhD candidates. She has excelled at student mentoring through research that she has supported with her own federally funded grants. She has established and run science education workshops with an impact on thousands of underrepresented students and their teachers. Overall, Sarah has demonstrated a career-long commitment to education of both students and the community through curriculum development, classroom instruction, and public outreach.

Martin Gibbs Medal

Ralph Bock, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

Ralph Bock is awarded the 2017 Martin Gibbs Medal for his groundbreaking research on horizontal gene transfer and experimental evolution. After receiving his PhD in 1996 from the University of Freiburg, Ralph quickly rose to the rank of full professor and department chair in 2001 and then director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in 2004. Peers note Ralph’s exceptional originality, creativity, scholarship, and intellectual rigor. Ralph’s research has focused on plastid genetics and the utilization of plastid transformation to manipulate plastid genomes. His research has advanced our understanding of fundamental questions in plastid biochemistry and achieved important biotechnological and synthetic biology breakthroughs, including engineered insect resistance and the transfer of the entire metabolic pathway for artemisinic acid from a medicinal plant to a biomass crop. Ralph’s research also pioneered the field of experimental evolution in plants. In a series of groundbreaking studies, he and his group experimentally recapitulated endosymbiosis, horizontal gene transfer, and organelle-to-nucleus gene transfer. This work hints at an asexual path to the formation of new species. Because of these numerous contributions to plant science, Ralph exemplifies the spirit of the Martin Gibbs Medal, which honors “an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences.”

Stephen Hales Prize

Julia Bailey-Serres, Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside

Julia Bailey-Serres is an outstanding member of the plant biology community. Julia’s research has uncovered the basic mechanisms by which plants survive submergence and sense the low oxygen levels associated with flooding. These impressive basic biology discoveries have been translated into agricultural applications that are benefiting some of the poorest people on Earth. Working in widespread collaborations and research networks, Julia and her colleagues have ensured that the discovery of the mechanism by which the Sub1A gene contributes to the submergence tolerance of rice has resulted in improved varieties that have been rapidly adopted. Julia is also recognized for her role as a technology innovator in plant biology; her development of the translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) method has opened a window into the translatome. Julia is also an excellent mentor of students and a servant to the community, sitting on numerous advisory panels and editorial boards.

Fellow of ASPB

Established in 2007 and granted to no more than 0.2% of the current membership, the Fellow of ASPB Award is given in recognition of distinguished and long-term contributions to plant biology and service to the Society by current members in areas that include research, education, mentoring, outreach, and professional and public service. Current members of ASPB who have contributed to the Society for at least 10 years are eligible for nomination. The 2016 Fellow of ASPB class includes the following individuals:

Jim Birchler, University of Missouri

Jim Birchler has made significant contributions to diverse aspects of plant genetics and plant genetic engineering ranging from the development of minichromosomes and chromosome painting techniques to elucidation of the mechanisms underlying centromere activation and inactivation. By analyzing gene expression and measured traits in aneuploids and polyploids and in their hybrids, he derived the gene balance hypothesis, an encompassing concept that can explain hybrid vigor (heterosis), as well as evolutionary selection, in polyploids and in duplicated genes. Jim’s service to ASPB is extensive: he has been an editorial board member of The Plant Cell for over 14 years and since 2015 has been a member of the Advisory Committee (as the Genetics Society of America representative) of the Plant Science Research Network. He is a superb teacher and is especially renowned for his depiction of Gregor Mendel (in costume and in character) in his Genetics class, for which he was named a Teaching Legend at Mizzou.

Edgar B. Cahoon, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Edgar B. Cahoon is a highly regarded senior faculty member both within Nebraska’s Department of Biochemistry and across the institution. He has made sustained and distinguished contributions to the general field of plant lipid research, and he has served ASPB at both the national and regional levels. Ed has been a monitoring editor of Plant Physiology. He has also served as vice chair and chair of the Midwestern Section of ASPB and as the section’s representative to the ASPB Executive Committee and Council. Additionally, Ed was affiliated with the ASPB Membership Committee. He has made fundamental discoveries related to the elucidation of biochemical pathways and associated genes for unusual fatty acids in the plant kingdom. In addition, Ed has made significant contributions to plant lipid biotechnology and championed the translation of these basic discoveries for oilseed enhancement and crop biofortification.

Anja Geitmann, McGill University

Anja Geitmann is world renowned for her work in the cell biology of the pollen tube, work that addresses biomechanical aspects, such as how cell shape is determined, and the ways materials are secreted appropriately to direct cell growth. Anja is also fearless in establishing collaborations with engineers and physicists to advance understanding of plant cell growth. Anja has served ASPB and the plant biology community as an officer (currently president) of the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists (CSPB), as a member of program committees for the ASPB/CSPB joint meetings, and as an editor of Plant Physiology since 2013. She has had leadership roles for the Microscopical Society of Canada and the International Association for Plant Sexual Reproduction Research. Anja has also made significant contributions by conveying her excitement about plant cell biology to the public.

Maureen Hanson, Cornell University

Maureen Hanson is a leader in plant organelle biology, and she has been involved in modifying chloroplast and mitochondrial gene expression and in working to enhance plastid carbon fixation. She is a longtime member of ASPB and has served on many committees, including the Lawrence Bogorad Award Committee and the Board of Trustees. Maureen has also served as a reviewer for ASPB journals, as well as a reviewer and editor for other society journals.

Gregg Howe, Michigan State University

Gregg Howe is well known for his research on understanding the mechanisms underpinning plant resistance to insect herbivores. His group identified the nature of the jasmonic acid receptor and how it regulates gene expression. Gregg is a longstanding member of ASPB; he served as a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology for 11 years, and he was also a member of the Early Career Award Committee. Gregg has been a reviewer and editor for other society journals as well.

Joe Kieber, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Joe Kieber is an international leader in phytohormone research, uncovering diverse and novel aspects of ethylene and cytokinin synthesis and perception. His clever and creative approaches have resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed publications in plant science and numerous scientific awards and honors. Joe’s collegial leadership and service to ASPB include being a member of the ASPB Board of Directors, an elected Council Member, and a senior editor for The Plant Cell.

Dan Kliebenstein, University of California, Davis

Dan Kliebenstein is a leader in elucidating how genotype controls phenotype. His research involves detailed, critical, and elegant analyses of secondary metabolism, impacts of transcriptional regulation and genetic variation in primary metabolism, and the genetic variations in generalist pathogens and their influence on distinct hosts. Dan is also a wonderful mentor and passionate colleague, providing substantial service to the larger community of plant biologists. His service to ASPB has primarily been through his editorial positions with The Plant Cell.

Clark Lagarias, University of California, Davis

Clark Lagarias has made multiple groundbreaking discoveries over the course of his 30-plus years as a plant biochemist. Nearly all his independent research relates to understanding light perception and signal transduction by the phytochrome superfamily of light-absorbing molecules in plants and, more recently, in microbes. He is coauthor of more than 140 published papers, and his outstanding research is well known for its innovative approaches and applications. Clark has served the ASPB community as an editorial board member for The Plant Cell, organizer of a major Plant Biology symposium, and member of the Eric E. Conn Young Investigator Award Committee.

Cathie Martin, John Innes Centre and University of East Anglia

Cathie Martin is well known for her earlier research on cellular specialization in plants and on the phenylpropanoid pathway. More recently, her studies have focused on the relationship between diet and food and on the development of healthier plants and plant products for human consumption and use. She is a longstanding member of ASPB, serving the Society in many ways, particularly as editor-in-chief of The Plant Cell for seven years. A novel feature Cathie introduced for ASPB is the Teaching Tools in Plant Biology program, which serves the entire plant biology community.

Blake C. Meyers, University of Missouri and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Blake C. Meyers is a leader in the field of small RNA biology. His recent interests include the set of plant-specific, phased, secondary siRNAs that are triggered from mRNA target transcripts. His current work also focuses on dissecting small RNA functions and biogenesis in Arabidopsis, maize, soybean, rice, asparagus, tomato, and numerous other plants ranging from crops to gymnosperms to models to species of interest purely for evolutionary reasons. Blake’s contributions to the plant biology community and ASPB span more than 20 years, including extensive editorial service (e.g., as an editorial board member for The Plant Cell), high-impact organizational and service activities, and training and instruction both in and out of the classroom. He is the 2017 recipient of the Society’s Charles Albert Shull Award.

Eran Pichersky, University of Michigan

Eran Pichersky is a pioneer in investigating the biochemical pathways involved in the production of plant volatiles, the enzymes that catalyze their production, and the genes that encode these enzymes. In particular, Eran is a world expert on the large and diverse family of plant terpene synthases. He has collaborated extensively and thereby influenced numerous scientists beyond those in his own lab. His service contributions to the plant biology community are numerous; he was a longtime editorial board member for The Plant Journal, as well as for other plant journals, and since 2014 he has served as a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology. Eran is cochairing a symposium at Plant Biology 2017, and he has twice served as a USDA grant panel manager. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015 and used it to write a book, War and Plants, in which he surveys historical, botanical, and geographic influences to explain how plant biochemistry influenced human history.

Daniel Schachtman, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Throughout his career, Daniel Schachtman has achieved important and lasting advances and breakthroughs in his research on abiotic stress and plant nutrition physiology. Furthermore, he has produced significant advances through his work in industry. Daniel’s contributions to discovery-based and translational research to improve crop yield under abiotic stress, foster agricultural sustainability, and enhance environmental protection are impressive. He joined ASPB in 1990 and has served the Society on the ASPB Women in Plant Biology Committee and the Lawrence Bogorad Award Committee and as a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology as well as an ad hoc reviewer for Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell. He is proactive on behalf of ASPB, and he served as ASPB’s representative on the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology.

David Smyth, Monash University

David Smyth has uniquely influenced analysis of flower development, initially by contributing to development of the ABC model for flower development and more recently by studying other transcription factor families involved in flower morphogenesis. David served on the editorial board of The Plant Cell for more than 12 years, and he was active in recruiting new members to the board, on which he continues to serve as a consulting editor. David has also served as an editor for The Plant Journal and Trends in Plant Science and early on was active in promoting Arabidopsis as a model, serving on the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee for six years.

Daniel B. Szymanski, Purdue University

Daniel B. Szymanski is a respected member of the international community of plant scientists. He has performed enormous amounts of service to ASPB and to the U.S. research community through his editorial duties and his role as organizer and host of a major plant cell biology conference. Dan’s research program centers on the elucidation of genetic pathways that control plant cell shape. This effort has significance and potential impact for agriculture and the national economy in the form of developing potential biofuels feedstocks, understanding host–pathogen interactions, and improving crop plant biomass. He has been a monitoring editor of Plant Physiology and regularly participates as a speaker or session chair at Plant Biology meetings. Dan has also been a tireless advocate for plant science by serving on more than a dozen federal grant panels.

Marguerite (Rita) Varagona, Monsanto

Marguerite (Rita) Varagona investigates the biotechnology of quality traits and is currently the herbicide tolerance platform lead at Monsanto. Rita has been a member of ASPB since 1982 and is one of few industry scientists to have served on the ASPB Executive Committee. She is actively involved in bridging the gap between academic and industry scientists. Rita is also an advocate for the participation of women and minority students in plant science through her participation in career development workshops, and she has worked with Monsanto Together, an outreach program to inform elementary and middle school students about plant science and careers.

Richard Vierstra, Washington University in St. Louis

Richard Vierstra is an outstanding scholar and mentor who has made distinguished and sustained contributions to three broad areas of plant biology: the ubiquitin-proteasome system, autophagy, and phytochrome structure and signaling. He approaches problems with all available tools, and his research articles are characterized by an unusual depth and thoroughness. In addition, Rick has taken on diverse and increasing leadership roles in ASPB. He has organized several symposia and has served on the Plant Physiology editorial board, the Program Committee, several prize committees, the Executive Committee, and the Board of Trustees.

Congratulations to all the 2017 awardees, and many thanks to their nominators and the committees who evaluated nominees for each award.

2017 Women’s Young Investigator Travel Award Winners Announced

2017 Women’s Young Investigator Travel Award Winners Announced

Each year, ASPB—through its Women in Plant Biology Committee—awards travel grants to attend the Plant Biology annual meeting to early-career women investigators. The goal of the competitive process that underpins the Women’s Young Investigator Travel Award (WYITA) program is to increase attendance of young women investigators at the annual meeting by providing travel funds. Applications are open to scientists who are within the first five years of their appointment in academic faculty-level positions, government research positions, or industry research scientist positions, as well as experienced postdocs. Selection is based on the science and quality of the abstract submitted relative to the amount of time as an early-career investigator, a statement describing why travel should be supported, and financial need.

Seven women were selected this year, and each will receive a $1,000 award to support attendance at Plant Biology 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Several awardees will present their research in talks during the concurrent symposia. Congratulations to all of the 2017 WYITA winners! This year’s recipients and their abstract titles are as follows:

Claire Casteel, University of California, Davis
“A Viral Protease Relocalizes in the Presence of the Vector to Promote Vector Performance”

Berit Ebert, University of Melbourne
“Characterization of the Plant Golgi-Localized UDP-GlcNAc Transporter”

Dana Freund, University of Minnesota
“Emerging Role of Sirtuins and Lysine Acylation in the Regulation of Plant Metabolism”

Dior Kelley, Iowa State University
“Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of Auxin Signaling During Seedling Development”

Thelma Madzima, University of Washington Bothell
“ABA-Induced Nucleosome Occupancy Profiling in Putative Maize Chromatin-Remodeling Mutants”

Lynn Richardson, Michigan State University
“Investigating the Role of GTP in Chloroplast Protein Import Using a Site-Specific Cross-Linking Approach”

Erin Sparks, University of Delaware
“Characterizing the Diversity of Brace Root Architecture and Anatomy in Maize”

Plant Science Research Network Updates

Plant Science Research Network Updates

Workshop Recommendations on Cyberinfrastructure and Training for the Plant Sciences

Executive Coordinator, Plant Science Research Network

The Plant Science Research Network (PSRN) shared its last update with the ASPB community in the November/December 2016 issue of the ASPB News (pp. 7–8; The article discussed the PSRN’s fall 2016 workshops to address the future of plant science research and training. Since then, the writing teams have been busy preparing the workshop reports and gathering feedback from workshop attendees.

The first of the three workshops, the scenario development workshop, produced four scenarios in a document entitled “Imagining Science in 2035: Strategies for Maximizing the Value and Impact of Plant Science, and Beyond.” Within the document, four scenarios, or stories about the future, illustrate what plant science research could look like in the year 2035. The scenarios follow a character named Dakota through 20 years of her career. Each of the four stories presents a different future with unique challenges to funding, agriculture, the environment, computational capabilities, public acceptance of science, and collaborations across disciplines and around the world. The document can be used as a strategic planning tool and will be shared with the plant science community; join the PSRN group on Plantae to be among the first to access the report.

The following is an excerpt from “Imagining Science in 2035”:

“One day, Dakota’s news feed alerted her to an agribusiness-supported MOOC (massive open online course) called ‘The Magic Garden,’ in which students conducted online research and ran a virtual farm. Though skeptical of corporate giants, Dakota decided she had nothing to lose. In fact, Piece of Cake Farm got off to a good start. Trial and error taught Dakota farm management, and she learned which microbial component to use for a given crop genotype, how to minimize water use, and how to predict which genetic traits would prevent disease and minimize insect losses.”

In October 2016, participants used “Imagining Science in 2035” to outline a strategic approach and develop recommendations for plant science training and cyberinfrastructure.

The cyberinfrastructure workshop report was spearheaded by Brett Tyler (Oregon State University), the PSRN steering committee member representing the American Phytopathological Society. The workshop recommendations focus on the need for much better interoperability and communications in six areas:

  1. Data: reference data sets, standards, interoperability, sharing, access
  2. Tools: analytics, artificial intelligence, algorithms, theoretical and data-driven models and simulations
  3. Platforms: computing resources, hardware, the cloud, operating systems, middleware, data storage, databases, high-speed connectivity
  4. Communication: collaboration between plant and information scientists and among communities of plant systems scientists
  5. Training: training of plant scientists in data literacy and transdisciplinary collaboration
  6. Public engagement: tools and activities to engage users and the general public in plant systems science.

The training workshop report was overseen by PSRN chair David Stern (Boyce Thompson Institute). The core of the training report is to empower trainees through the modularization and customization of training, embodied in four principles:

  1. Increase trainee responsibility and independence
  2. Provide necessary mentorship and career counseling
  3. Modularize training to provide a broad and customizable experience
  4. Promote and enable flexible on- and off-ramps during career development.

More information about all of the PSRN workshop recommendations can be found in the Plant Science Research Network and the Big Data & Cyberinfrastructure groups on Plantae. We welcome comments and feedback from the plant science community on Plantae.

The PSRN presented the workshop recommendations at several meetings in 2017, such as Plant and Animal Genomes (January), Phenome 2017 (February), and Arabidopsis Research and Training for the 21st Century (March). We will also be at the upcoming Future of Bioscience Graduate and Postdoctoral Training Conference (June), Plant Biology 2017 (July), and the 2017 meetings of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (October) and the Crop Science Society (November). Please contact the PSRN executive coordinator, Natalie Henkhaus (, for more information.

Membership Corner

Sarah Wyatt

ASPB members share a common goal of promoting the growth, development, and outreach of plant biology as a pure and applied science. This column features some of the dedicated and innovative members of ASPB who believe that membership in our Society is crucial to the future of plant biology. If you are interested in contributing to this feature, please contact ASPB Membership at

Sarah Wyatt

Title: Professor
Place of Work or School: Ohio University
Member Since: 1991
Research Area: Plant signaling, gravitational biology

What would you tell colleagues to encourage them to join ASPB?
ASPB provides a researcher a home. It provides a family of scientists, a professional network. The annual meeting gives you an opportunity to build that network, hear the latest research results from other scientists, discuss new strategies for teaching and outreach, and hear about the latest news and endeavors on policy. ASPB gives you a venue to participate as a professional scientist.

Was someone instrumental in getting you to join ASPB?
My PhD adviser, Nick Carpita, first introduced me to ASPB. He believed in the importance of building a network in the scientific community and in the benefits of presenting your research. I have continued that tradition by supporting my students’ participation in the Midwest Section and annual meetings whenever possible.

Why has being a member of ASPB been important?
It has given me a professional home.

What advice would you give to a plant scientist just starting out?
The advice I would give a plant scientist starting out is the advice I give all my students, undergraduate and graduate alike: join the Society and get involved. Love what you do, or do something else. Research (finding new knowledge) is the foundation of what we do. Whether you want primarily to teach, do research, or work in policy, research and the love of knowledge are the foundation, and there is nowhere better to find that knowledge than through the Society, its publications, its meetings, and its membership.

What person, living or deceased, do you most admire? Why?
One of the people I most admire is Barbara McClintock, mostly because she did what she loved in spite of the times and the prejudice that surrounded her in her early career. She broke ground for all women in research, but especially for plant biologists.

What are you reading these days?
I assume you mean beyond the manuscripts I’m reviewing and the latest journal articles. I just finished Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, am halfway through The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, just started The Big Picture by Sean Carroll, and am reading around in The War on Science by Shawn Otto (seems somehow appropriate this year). How Science Works (Hann), Asking the Right Questions (Browne & Keeley), Learning to Think Things Through (Nosich), and The Craft of Research (Booth) are on my desk as I’m getting ready for spring semester.

What are your hobbies?
Hobbies—an interesting question. My students snickered when I showed them this question. I don’t think they think I have any, but I do. I have two dogs, Jack and Joey, who keep me entertained (and busy hiking), two kayaks that beg to be taken to the surrounding lakes and rivers, a vintage player piano (thanks to Wendy Boss, ASPB fellow), and friends in the humanities (yes, the humanities) who constantly expand my reading list. And I love going to movies—not watching movies on a TV, tablet, or phone (ugh)—actual movies at the theater, with popcorn, M&M’s, the works! Dim the lights, silence the phones, and disappear into the fantasy for a couple of hours.

What do you think is the most important discovery in plant biology over the past year, and why?
What do I think is the next “big thing” in plant biology? I’m hoping it is untangling plant signaling. Advances in big data analysis, machine learning to amass and integrate information, design of regulatory networks, and computational modeling will, hopefully, allow integration of multiple formats of data to uncover links in signaling that are currently hidden in the complexity of interconnected pathways and the redundancy that ensures life.

Have you enhanced your career using ASPB job postings or through networking at an ASPB function?
Yes. Oh, the places you’ll go! and the people you’ll meet (Dr. Seuss reference for the uninitiated).
Has the ASPB network (job bank or other ASPB website functions, ASPB sectional gatherings or national meetings, ASPB committee functions, and so forth) helped you find a job or hire anyone? If so, please describe which services were most helpful and how.
Networking (and just seeing the research of others) at ASPB sectional and national gatherings has been one of the biggest influences. When I was a student, the Midwest sectional gave me opportunities to present talks about my research; oral presentations for students were rare at national meetings even then. I first got to know the researcher who would later be my postdoc at the Midwest sectional. And a couple of my undergraduate and master’s students have found their PhD advisers at the Midwest sectional. I met researchers with whom I would later do my postdoc at the national meeting. Not a huge sample size, but overall, meeting people, connecting, and discussing the science (and other things) at the sectional and national meetings have opened a variety of doors for both me in my career and my students in theirs. These experiences give students an opportunity to become a scientist, to think of themselves as a professional instead of as a student.

What do you see as the most important role for scientific societies such as ASPB?
Professional societies like ASPB provide a professional home for scientists—yes, certainly networking and publishing opportunities, but more than that, a place to ground one’s professional life and to get involved as a professional scholar, researcher, and teacher and as an advocate for science, and plant science, for the public, for government, and for funding agencies. Too often, young scientists now feel they can join a society if necessary to go to a meeting or publish a manuscript, with no other further commitment, but they are missing out on the richness of membership in a society. Societies provide a bigger picture of the profession, the problems that face that profession, and the breadth of knowledge and skills to address those issues and continue to grow as a professional. To get the full benefit of a society, you have to invest in the society, see the bigger picture, work the problems, enjoy the successes, and gain depth and breadth as a professional.

What do you still have to learn?
Everything. The more I learn, the more I learn how much more there is to learn.


Jenna Gallegos Awarded ASPB/AAAS Mass Media Fellowship

Jenna Gallegos Awarded ASPB/AAAS Mass Media Fellowship

Jenna E. Gallegos, from the University of California, Davis, has been selected to represent ASPB as the 2017 ASPB/AAAS Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellow. She will spend 10 weeks this summer training as a science journalist at the Washington Post in Washington, D.C.

In June, Jenna will earn her PhD in plant biology with a designated emphasis in biotechnology from UC Davis. For her dissertation, Jenna has worked with Dr. Alan B. Rose to investigate the mechanism by which certain introns increase gene expression even in the absence of proximal promoter sequences.

While at UC Davis, Jenna was awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship and a dissertation year fellowship from the American Association of University Women. She also helped establish the UC Davis science communication and outreach group Science Says, which produces sharable content and organizes events to bridge the gap between scientists and the general public and address science myths in the media, especially on topics related to food and agricultural science.

Jenna received a BA in molecular biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Given her very rural background, she is fascinated by the roles that molecular biology can play in agriculture. In navigating news about agricultural biotechnology, she quickly realized that misinformation on this and other topics of science and science policy abounds. To inspire a more scientifically literate public, Jenna blogs, makes videos, and shares digestible scientific news through social media. She is excited to reach a wider and more diverse audience as a science writing intern at the Washington Post this summer and sincerely thanks ASPB for affording her the opportunity.

Science Policy

Policy Update

Policy Update

Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC

Reaction to Trump Administration Budget Blueprint and Outlook for Research and Education Investments

Since President Trump released his fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget blueprint to Congress on March 16, the research community has been deeply concerned about proposed cuts to critical investments. Since then, the community has mobilized to protect key investments while extensive reaction from Congress generally, and congressional appropriators specifically, indicates that there are many hurdles to passage and little appetite to make dramatic cuts.

The proposed budget blueprint faces a major procedural hurdle because it breaks the spending caps set in law for defense and nondefense spending. A change in the caps requires 60 votes in the Senate, and Republicans hold only 52 seats. Democrats have been consistent in their insistence on maintaining balance between defense and nondefense funding. For example, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, made clear that the “President’s proposal would abandon months of bipartisan negotiations” to establish the spending caps and that “further slashing nondefense spending . . . is not acceptable.”

Republicans have also criticized the proposal and stated their rejection of dramatic cuts to domestic discretionary spending. For example, senior Appropriations Committee member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated, “The president has suggested a budget, but, under the Constitution, Congress passes appropriations bills….We will not balance the budget by cutting discretionary spending, which is only 31 percent of spending and is already under control because of earlier budget acts.”

Although the overall indications are that the blueprint will be dramatically changed during the appropriations process, not all programs have the same level of commitment, and some may still face cuts. A full analysis of President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint is available at

House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Holds Hearing to Discuss Agricultural Research

On March 16, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing to discuss agricultural research programs and priorities, one of a series of hearings to examine all titles of the next farm bill. Witnesses included Dr. Jim Carrington, president of the Danforth Plant Science Center and a member of the ASPB Science Policy Committee.

In his opening remarks, subcommittee chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL) praised the work of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, noting that agricultural research is vital to the success of the U.S. economy. Most notably, there was consensus from both committee members and witnesses that federal investments in agricultural research continue to fall short. This stagnation will likely have long-term implications for U.S. global competitiveness as China and other competitors continue to invest significantly in research. In a discussion of funding constraints, Dr. Carrington testified that the budget for AFRI should reflect the breadth of its responsibilities and that a streamlined application process would encourage broader participation from the research community.

Although members acknowledged bipartisan support for agricultural research, President Trump’s proposed $4.7 billion cut to USDA overall, despite flat “protected” funding for AFRI, dominated the hearing. A high-level discussion took place on the impact of proposed cuts and the expansion of private-sector funding to fill potential gaps in government funding, although specific strategies to leverage federal dollars to encourage this industry investment were not elucidated.

Dr. Carrington was also questioned about specific technologies that have resulted from federal research awards and issues experienced with the AFRI application process and administrative structure. Chairman Davis expressed concern that the overburdening regulatory system was preventing valuable technologies from reaching the public, a point echoed by other members. Representative Lawson (D-FL) discussed the role institutions of higher education play in advancing research priorities and bolstering workforce development, which spurred a larger conversation on the importance of STEM education (a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary and applied approach) in preparing for and addressing critical issues in the agricultural sector. Overall, the concerns of the committee echoed those of the witnesses, and there was a general awareness of and support for agricultural research.

Source and Additional Information

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Agriculture Secretary Nominee Sonny Perdue

On March 23, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee for secretary of agriculture, former governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue. The hearing was amicable, lasting a little over two hours, and reflected the noncontroversial nature of one of the last nominees for the Trump administration cabinet. Following the hearing, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) indicated that she intended to support Perdue’s nomination.

The bulk of questioning focused on trade and President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint, which proposes a 21% cut to USDA’s overall discretionary funding (compared to the FY2016 enacted level). Responding to inquiries on the proposed cuts, Perdue indicated that he was not consulted or involved in the budget process but intends to be an advocate for the agency if confirmed.

Fielding concerns from Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), Perdue expressed his intent to work with the Department of Commerce and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on trade agreement reforms that will affect agriculture, including the North America Free Trade Agreement.

Although Perdue expressed general support for USDA’s programs that support families and rural communities, he was not questioned on specific areas of interest to the academic research community such as agricultural research, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the impact of climate change, implementation of the GMO labeling law, or the agency’s role in water quality.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved Perdue’s nomination on March 30, by a vote of 19–1. The full Senate approved by 87–11 on April 24.

Source and Additional Information

House Science Committee Holds Hearing on Opportunities and Challenges at NSF

On March 21, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing on NSF entitled “National Science Foundation Part II: Future Opportunities and Challenges for Science.” The hearing was the second in a series of hearings the subcommittee is holding to prepare for a potential reauthorization of NSF. Whereas the first hearing looked back at issues the subcommittee considered last Congress and addressed in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (Public Law 114-329), this hearing was intended to be forward looking and to address how NSF sets strategic priorities, incentivizes interdisciplinary research, and handles issues related to reproducibility and openness.

Witnesses included Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF acting chief operating officer; Dr. Maria Zuber, chair of the National Science Board; Dr. Jeffrey Spies, cofounder and chief technology officer of the Center for Open Science; and Dr. Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at the University of California, San Francisco. In opening statements, subcommittee chairwoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA), subcommittee ranking member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and full committee ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson all noted their support for high-quality research, accessibility, interdisciplinary research, and STEM training. However, the Democratic members also expressed concern about any efforts of Congress to single out the social, behavioral, and economic sciences or geosciences for reduced funding.

Dr. Ferrini-Mundy used her testimony to highlight four key NSF principles: support for fundamental research, flexibility to fund promising new areas, partnerships across government and with the private sector, and people, including the development of talent at all levels. Dr. Zuber made three recommendations for NSF: maintain investment across fields, prepare a STEM-capable workforce, and maintain trust and confidence for the American public. Dr. Spies made recommendations on how to improve reproducibility and openness, and Dr. Yamamoto discussed his recommendations for breaking down disciplinary barriers.

Questions focused mostly on gaining more detail related to the openness and interdisciplinary recommendations, and Democrats on the subcommittee additionally repeatedly asked the witnesses about the detrimental impacts of directorate-level funding and of reduced funding for social and behavioral sciences and geosciences. The witnesses all agreed that reducing funding for these fields would be detrimental and that it is important for NSF to maintain flexibility in its funding.

Full committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) was unable to attend the hearing along with several Republican members. Chairman Smith and these other members were expected to express concern about reproducibility in the social sciences specifically, but with their absence none of the members present raised concerns.

Source and Additional Information

ASPB Leads Organization of Congressional Ag Research Event

ASPB Leads Organization of Congressional Ag Research Event

ASPB Legislative and Public Affairs Director

Despite the progress the research advocacy community has made, we still face a constant struggle to promote the value and importance of agricultural and natural resources research, extension, and education. With efforts such as the Unified Message initiative championed by the Riley Memorial Foundation, ASPB, and other organizations, the research community increasingly recognizes the power of working together in support of the broader agricultural and natural resources research enterprise. Recognizing this need, ASPB and Lewis-Burke Associates, the Society’s government relations consultants, convened leading ag research advocacy organizations to hold the first Agricultural Research Congressional Exhibition and Reception.

Partner organizations included the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research, the Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation (ASPB is a member of each of these), and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. In addition, the American Seed Trade Association and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization helped sponsor the event, which was held April 5, 2017, in the U.S. Capitol.

Twenty ag research teams from across the country, across the ag disciplinary space, and from more than 30 academic institutions, private foundations, and ARS participated in the event. Exhibitors presented their work and discussed the importance of USDA-supported ag research. Among those present to help make the case were Sonny Ramaswamy (National Institute of Food and Agriculture administrator), Chavonda Jacobs-Young (ARS administrator), and other USDA research agency leaders. The goals of the event were to

  • recognize and cultivate congressional champions;
  • facilitate the development of congressional relationships with local agricultural constituent researchers, agency leadership, and staff;
  • educate congressional leaders and their staff about agricultural research;
  • communicate the national and local value of agricultural research, extension, and education to key decision makers; and
  • focus congressional attention on agricultural research, extension, and education.

Most notable of the event’s more than 150 attendees were six members of Congress, including Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee chair John Hoeven (R-ND). All members gave formal remarks highlighting the importance of research to the nation’s agricultural enterprise and to the economy. They also spoke about the upcoming farm bill. House Agriculture Committee chair Michael Conaway (R-TX) pointed out that in the last farm bill, the committee included significant reductions in funding beyond what House leadership requested and that he would seek to get some of those funds back; he further remarked, “We’ve done more than our fair share.”

Chair of the House Ag Committee’s Research Subcommittee and congressional sponsor of the event Rodney Davis (R-IL) emphasized the uniqueness of the bipartisan nature of the House Ag Committee. A testament to his assertion, the only Democrat member of Congress to attend the event, despite our invitations, was Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), who serves on the House Ag Committee, and he was brought to the event by Chairman Davis. The event was a great success, and we look forward to making this an annual tradition.

The full list of members of Congress who attended is as follows:

  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Chair, Ag Appropriations Committee
  • Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chair, Ag Committee
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chair, Research Subcommittee, Ag Committee
  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KA), Ag Committee
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Ag Committee
  • Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ag Committee.

Education Forum

ASPB@NSTA: Planting Seeds to Grow Plant Biology in the Science Curriculum

ASPB@NSTA: Planting Seeds to Grow Plant Biology in the Science Curriculum

University of Wisconsin–Madison, on behalf of NSTA booth volunteers

The Education Committee hosted an outstanding outreach booth at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) national convention, March 30–April 1, 2017, in the exhibition hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The outreach booth was organized by Education Committee members Scott Woody and Valerie Haywood and aided by logistical support from ASPB executive staff in Rockville, including Tyrone Spady and Shoshana Kronfeld.

As is our habit, we shook the ASPB membership tree, looking for help from area plant biologists and educators, and the harvest was impressive in both yield and quality. Special thanks to Nat Prunet (Caltech) for bringing a sampling of his beautiful confocal images of gene expression patterns in plant meristems, to Alex Cortez and Jim Burnette (University of California, Riverside) for hosting a pipetting practicum station, and to Ed Himelblau (Cal Poly State University) for sharing some of his wonderful science cartoons with NSTA attendees—I suspect many will be found as yellowing copies tacked or taped to science labs everywhere.

In addition to booth stations featuring educational resources developed by ASPB membership, such as My Life as a Plant activity and coloring books and a garden necklace planting station, the booth featured several offerings from the Woody–Amasino (University of Wisconsin–Madison) genetics education resource development program. The Mating Game once again served as a gateway station useful for engaging passersby and led to many fruitful and extended conversations with attendees as they explored the educational potential of living and lighted Fast Plant self-compatible (FPsc) mutant plant populations at hand (thanks to Ed Himelblau for growing the FPsc plants in advance and bringing them to Los Angeles).

ASPB membership in general, and especially those who served as volunteer ambassadors of plant biology in the NSTA booth, have all manner of reasons to feel proud of our outreach efforts. The ASPB booth was once again among the few in a cavernous exhibition hall to feature plants and plant biology to the assembled collection of top-notch educators from around the country and around the world. The roster of volunteers who lent visitors some level of their expertise included the following:

Judy Brusslan, California State University, Long Beach
Jim Burnette, University of California, Riverside
Katie Clark, University of California, Riverside
Alex Cortez, University of California, Riverside
Lauren Dedow, University of California, Riverside
Valerie Haywood, Case Western Reserve University, ASPB Education Committee
Ed Himelblau, Cal Poly State University
Maureen Hummel, University of California, Riverside
Carl Procko, Salk Institute
Nat Prunet, Caltech
Patrice Salome, University of California, Los AngelesU
Scott Woody, University of Wisconsin–Madison, ASPB Education Committee

New Staff

New Staff

ASPB Welcomes Winnie Nham as New Education Coordinator

Winnie Nham joined ASPB’s staff on April 24, 2017, as our new education coordinator. In that capacity, Winnie will implement the Society’s education and outreach activities and provide administrative support and coordination of correspondence, communication activities, and development of education-related projects. Winnie will also provide administrative support for the ASPB Education Committee and the coordinators of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

Prior to joining ASPB, Winnie served as director of communications at Youth Service America (YSA), a nonprofit that activates, funds, trains, and recognizes youth ages 5–25 in the service field. There, she oversaw YSA’s communications and marketing strategy, coordinating YSA’s service campaigns, digital content, and public engagement activities. From 2011 to 2015, Winnie served as communications manager at George Washington University’s Rising Powers Initiative, where she brought together experts in the policy, media, and academic communities to examine critical international issues under a research grant umbrella totaling over $1.3 million.

Winnie holds an MA in international affairs from George Washington University and a BA in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Outside of work, she owns a photography business and serves as assistant principal violinist in the Washington Metropolitan Philharmonic.


Gerald F. Deitzer

Gerald F. Deitzer


BY JOHN WATSON, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, and ELISABETH GANTT and JOE SULLIVAN, University of Maryland

Gerald “Gerry” Deitzer passed away at his home in Adelphi, Maryland, on November 8, 2016. Gerry was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. In 1966 he obtained a BS in biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and in 1971 a PhD in botany at the University of Georgia, where he explored the transitional stages of the shoot apex of Chenopodium rubrum L. For a postdoctoral fellowship (German Academic Exchange Service), he joined the renowned University of Freiburg group headed by Hans Mohr for four years (1971–1975). Gerry returned to the United States in 1975 to join the Environmental Research Center of the Smithsonian Institution at Rockville, Maryland. In 1987, when that laboratory was closed, Gerry joined the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture (later the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture) at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), from which he retired in 2008.

Gerry’s research centered around photobiology and the regulation of plant development by light. In particular, he was interested in understanding how seasonal changes in photoperiod initiate the switch from vegetative growth to reproductive growth in plants such as Arabidopsis, barley, and wheat. One facet of these inquiries was his exploration of how far red light perceived by phytochrome enhances flowering when added to the photoperiod.

Gerry was a dedicated and successful teacher in the classroom and mentor to students in the research lab. During his time at UMCP, he taught the courses Light and Plant Development, Environmental Factors and Horticultural Crop Production, and Plant Structure and Function, to name but a few. He mentored several graduate students in the MS and PhD programs at UMCP. He was also sought out to serve on many PhD advisory committees because of the breadth and depth of his knowledge of plant biology. In addition, he was instrumental in planning the research greenhouse at UMCP and was a dedicated and innovative manager of many of the controlled growth facilities on campus. After his retirement, he continued to serve the community by testing new LED and other lighting systems in controlled environments.

Gerry was an active member of several scientific societies and a career-long member of ASPB. Over the years, he served on several ASPB committees and the Plant Physiology editorial board. He was also very active in the Mid-Atlantic Section of ASPB. He regularly contributed to the field by providing reviews for funding agencies and for journals such as Plant Physiology, Photochemistry and Photobiology, and Plant, Cell & Environment, among others.

Those of us lucky enough to have known or worked with Gerry will remember his dedication to and love of experimental science, the rigor of his logic, and his quick and powerful insight. We will also remember his willingness to share his knowledge and experience with younger colleagues and students to help them on their own journeys to becoming scientists and his genuine joy in helping in any way possible. Gerry was always a staunch defender of diversity in academics and science. Perhaps most of all, we who knew Gerry will remember the warmth of his personality, his generous nature, the twinkle in his eye, and his hearty laugh.

Gerry is survived by his lovely wife, Barbara; his son, Garth; Garth’s wife, Susan; Garth and Susan’s children, Grace and Frederick; and his brother James, wife Mary Ann, and their children Jennifer, Kimberly, and Michael.

André Jagendorf

This article first appeared on March 23, 2017, in the Cornell Chronicle ( It is adapted here with permission from the Cornell Chronicle.

André Jagendorf


Communications Specialist, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University

André Tridon Jagendorf, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor Emeritus in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, died March 13 in Ithaca, New York. He was 90.

André is best known for his research that provided direct evidence that chloroplasts synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through the movement of hydrogen ions across membranes. (ATP is the molecule that supplies the energy to fuel metabolism on the cellular level.) He was also a pioneer in many aspects of chloroplast molecular biology, including DNA repair mechanisms.

“By advancing our fundamental understanding of the inner workings of chloroplasts—the basic structures that plants use to convert sunlight into food, fuel, and fiber—André provided us with deep insights into fundamental life processes,” said Karl Niklas, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Botany.

André attended the Bronx High School of Science before matriculating at Cornell, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in plant physiology in 1948. He completed his doctorate in biophysics at Yale University in 1951 and was a Merck Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 1953. He returned to Cornell as professor of plant physiology in 1966 and was named Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in 1981. He continued daily laboratory work until just a few weeks before his death.

André was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1980. Among other honors, he received the Charles F. Kettering Award and Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award from the American Society of Plant Physiologists, in addition to serving as the organization’s president. In 2007 he was named one of the first fellows of the American Society of Plant Biologists, and in 2012 he received the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic Research Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the understanding of ATP biosynthesis. He also served as chair of the Section of Plant Biology in the former Division of Biological Sciences from 1990 to 1992.

Over the course of his career, André collaborated with scores of other researchers and mentored many young scientists. In his retrospective paper “Chance, Luck and Photosynthesis Research: An Inside Story,” published in Photosynthesis Research in 1998 (Vol. 57, pp. 215–229), André acknowledged “the major contributions of graduate students and postdocs, and help from friends and colleagues. Without them I would have had no career at all.” He is survived by his wife, Jean; two daughters; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.