ASPB is pleased to announce the award winners for 2020.
The Charles F. Kettering Award was established by the Kettering Foundation to recognize excellence in the field of photosynthesis.
The 2020 Charles F. Kettering Award recipient is Donald Bryant, who is the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, at Pennsylvania State University. Don’s seminal contributions over a five-decade career include elucidation of the structure, function, and assembly of multiple types of photosynthetic complexes, including phycobilisomes, chlorosomes, and Photosytem I, as well as unraveling biosynthetic pathways for chlorophylls, bacteriochlorophylls, and carotenoids. Most recently, he characterized the response of cyanobacteria to red light, demonstrating that they extensively remodel their photosynthetic apparatus by synthesizing new chlorophylls, phycobiliproteins, and photosystems to adapt to the changes in the incident light spectrum. Introduction of this capability into crop plants could increase plant productivity by expanding the wavelengths of light utilization.
The Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award is the society’s oldest award established in 1925 at the first annual meeting of the Society through the generosity of Dr. Charles A. Shull. It honors Dr. Charles Reid Barnes, the first professor of plant physiology at the University of Chicago. It is an annual award for meritorious work in plant biology. Membership is a requirement for the award and the award provides a life membership in the Society to an individual who is at least sixty years old.
In 2020, ASPB honors two outstanding recipients, Don Ort and Brian Larkins for the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award.
Don Ort is the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. Don’s research on photosynthesis and plant-environment interactions spans scales from the molecular level to the biochemical, physiological, agronomic scales and final at the ecological scale. His research leverages fundamental insights into mechanisms to advance improvements in crop performance and addresses climate change’s intersection with crop productivity. Throughout his career, Don has generously served the plant science community in many capacities, including as President of ASPB and as Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology and the mentoring of a generation of students and post-doctoral scholars.
The second awardee for the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award is Brian Larkins, associate vice chancellor emeriti for life sciences and professor emeriti, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Brian is one of the world’s foremost experts in maize seed development and protein assembly processes and he created an extensive body of work impacting agriculture. Brian has also generously dedicated his time and energies in service of ASPB. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell, ASPB President, President of the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology, is a founding member of the ASPB Legacy Society working tirelessly to ensure a solid financial future for ASPB. Throughout his distinguished career, Brian has served on numerous evaluation committees, review teams, and advisory boards in support of the plant science community. Brian mentored a generation of graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty, providing advice on career decisions and emerging opportunities. Above all, he shows a benevolence to his friends and colleagues that is uncommon amidst the pressure and competition of scientific endeavor.
The Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research was initiated to honor Dr. Bogorad’s many contributions to plant biology, including his influential efforts to bring the techniques of molecular biology to bear on problems in plant biology; his groundbreaking research on chloroplast genetics, biogenesis, structure, and function; and his inspired teaching and mentoring. This award is made to a plant scientist whose work both illuminates the present and suggests paths to enlighten the future.
The 2020 Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research awardee is Alice Cheung, who is Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is internationally recognized for her discoveries on the signaling systems that control pollination and fertilization. Alice invented a widely used assay termed the “semi-vivo” pollen tube growth assay that has had a major impact on the field. Using elegant imaging techniques, Alice defined components of the pollen tube endomembrane system and trafficking by the actin cytoskeleton. Alice identified Rab GTPases that regulate polarized tip growth. She determined that a receptor-like kinase, FERONIA, plays key roles in signaling through ROS production in both root hairs and in male-female pistil interactions. Her efforts revealed that FERONIA is a multi-functional regulator, stimulating many laboratories to study its role in diverse systems.
The Stephen Hales Prize honors the Reverend Stephen Hales for his pioneering work in plant biology published in his 1727 book Vegetable Staticks. It is an award for a ASPB scientist who has served the science of plant biology in some noteworthy manner.
The 2020 Stephen Hales Prize awardee is Julian Schroeder. Julian is the Novartis Chair and Distinguished Professor of Biology in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California San Diego and was founding Co-Director of the Center for Food and Fuel for the 21st Century at UCSD. Julian has made successive fundamental discoveries in plant biology and mentored generations of younger scientists, many of whom are themselves now leaders in their fields. Julian is a leader in plant electrophysiology and was one of the pioneers of patch clamping in plants, allowing detailed characterization of the function and regulation of ion channels in plant cells, which revolutionized the understanding of the processes by which stomata open and close. His work has provided major insights into the signaling pathways by which abscisic acid and carbon dioxide close stomata, the role of calcium signals in stomatal signaling, and the molecular bases for mineral uptake and metal toxicity.
The Charles Albert Shull Award award was initiated in 1971 to honor Dr. Charles A. Shull’s founding of and early support for ASPB. This award honors an individual for outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology by a member who is generally under forty-five years of age on January 1st of the year of presentation or is fewer than ten years from the granting of the doctoral degree.
The 2020 recipient of the Charles Albert Shull Award is Zachary B. Lippman. Zachary is the Jacob-Goldfield Professor of Genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Zach has made pioneering contributions to our understanding of the genetic and regulatory networks and mechanisms that control floral meristem activity in tomato and related plants in the Solanaceae, using a combination of classical and quantitative genetics, genomics, and cutting-edge gene editing. Moreover, he has demonstrated an exceptional ability to translate his fundamental discoveries in plant biology into novel germplasm resources and innovative strategies for agricultural crop improvement.
The Excellence in Education Award is given in recognition of excellence in teaching, leadership in curricular development, or authorship of effective teaching materials in the science of plant biology.
Tammy Long, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Professor of Plant Biology at Michigan State University, is the winner of the 2020 Excellence in Education Award. Tammy has a comprehensive history of excellence in teaching and mentoring, and also an extensive record of outreach as a pioneer in modeling instructional practice and as a leader in biology education research. She has earned multiple teaching awards, including the AAAS Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction in 2012 with Sara Wyse. Through the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching, she has mentored faculty in effective teaching methods, and she has also presented seminars on evidence-based teaching methods and curriculum improvements at several institutions. Tammy has been a PI/co-PI on numerous teaching and education/training grants that support a large number of students and postdocs. Several of her presentations and publications, which are well cited in biology education, include undergraduate authors.
The Fellow of ASPB Award is granted 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.
In 2020, we honor six of our members with the Fellow of ASPB Award: Diane Bassham, Michael Blatt, Clint Chapple, Sheng Luan, Donald McCarty, and Sarah Wyatt.
Diane Bassham, the Walter E. and Helen Parke Loomis Professor of Plant Physiology at Iowa State University, is an internationally recognized plant cell biologist in the area of autophagy. Diane is particularly known for her work on how nutrition, hormones, and stress affect autophagy. She has made significant contributions to ASPB, serving on the editorial board of Plant Physiology, as a member of the Women in Plant Biology Committee, and as an organizer of career development workshops at ASPB’s annual meetings. At Iowa State University, she has been an exemplary mentor for a large and diverse group of students in her own lab.
Michael Blatt, the Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, has been the tireless editor-in-chief of Plant Physiology since 2013. Mike’s research, documented in more than 300 publications, has had a profound impact on the development of modern transport biophysics and cell biology in plants. For example, he was one of the first investigators to develop strategies for voltage clamp analysis of transport in plant cells. Mike has been a prodigious mentor, and many scientists trained in his lab currently hold positions in academia and industry.
Clint Chapple is a distinguished professor of biochemistry at Purdue University. He served as departmental head from 2008 to 2015, and he is currently serving as director of Purdue’s Center for Plant Biology. Clint’s service to ASPB and beyond has been extensive. Currently he is on the ASPB Board of Directors and the editorial board of The Plant Cell. In the past, he was president of the Phytochemical Society of North America, served as a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology, and participated in many grant panels at USDA, DOE, and NSF. He is well known for his research on lignin, particularly for combining the power of Arabidopsis genomics with the tools of biochemistry to work out many of the essential steps in lignin biosynthesis.
Sheng Luan, a professor in the department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley, has made seminal contributions to our understanding of immunophilins, calcium signaling, and the regulation of ion channels. Sheng has been named Highly Cited Researcher in multiple years by Web of Science. His previous awards include a senior Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship, a AAAS fellowship, and the Charles Albert Shull Award from ASPB. Sheng has served on the editorial board of Plant Physiology and several other journals, and he was the founding editor-in-chief of Molecular Plant. Sheng has been highly sought after as a speaker in many national and international conferences and as a member of grant-evaluating panels at USDA and NSF.
Donald R. McCarty, a professor at the University of Florida, has spent his entire career studying maize with an emphasis on seed biology. Don has made numerous important contributions in this area, including discovery of new types of transcription factors and of the enzymes involved in cleaving carotenoids to produce the precursors of the hormones abscisic acid and strigolactones. Don has made an enormous contribution to the maize community by heading up the creation and maintenance of a national maize genetic resource, the UniformMu transposon mutant collection. He has served on the editorial board of Plant Physiology and on numerous USDA and NSF grant panels. He has trained a number of students who continue his legacy by making contributions to maize genetics.
Sarah Wyatt is a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology at Ohio University and director of the Ohio University Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology. She is considered one of the world’s experts on gravitational signaling in plants, and her work includes experiments conducted on board the International Space Station. She received Ohio University’s Research Scholar Award and served as departmental vice-chair. She also was a Program Director for Integrative and Organismal Systems and Molecular and Cell Biology Divisions at the National Science Foundation. Sarah is also a leader in plant biology education and has been at the forefront of ASPB’s efforts to expand its educational mission. Sarah served on ASPB’s Education Foundation, was a member of the ASPB Education Committee and its chair from 2015 to 2019. Sarah received the Ohio University Presidential Teaching Award and the ASPB Excellence in Education Award. Sarah is dedicated in outreach to her community through talks, presentations and participation in local Tech Savvy conferences. Her service to ASPB has been extensive. In addition to service on the ASPB Education Committee and Education Foundation, she is a leader in the Midwestern Section, having served as secretary/treasurer, vice chair, chair and section representative on the ASPB Executive Committee. She has been an inspiration and mentor to many plant biology students, postdocs, and early career professors.
The Early Career Award was instituted by the Society in 2005 to recognize outstanding research by scientists at the beginnings of their careers. This award is a monetary award made annually for exceptionally creative, independent contributions by an individual, whether or not a member of the Society, who is generally not more than seven years post-Ph.D. on January 1st of the year of the presentation.
The 2020 Early Career Awardee is Christine Scoffoni. Christine is an Assistant Professor of Biology from the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Los Angeles. Christine obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Marseille and her Master’s degree in Bordeaux, France before earning her PhD and performing postdoctoral research at UCLA in the laboratory of Lawren Sack. She was a Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at Ulm University in Germany. Christine’s research focuses on leaf hydraulics, where she has developed new techniques that have become global standards in the field. She has pushed her plant physiology research into diverse fields, such as biogeography and X-ray microCT phenotyping to answer key questions in drought tolerance. Christine has an exceptional record in teaching and outreach, exemplified by her NSF CAREER award.
The ASPB Science Policy Committee awards the ASPB Leadership in Science Public Service Award annually to recognize individuals who have advanced a mission of ASPB and its members through significant contributions to public policy leadership.
Jane Silverthorne is the 2020 recipient of this award. Dr. Silverthorne served several roles at the National Science Foundation, most recently as the Deputy Assistant Director for the Directorate of Biological Sciences where she played a key role in development of the Plant Genome Research Program.