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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology A Committee Biographies Jeffery L. Dangl (chair) is the John N. Couch Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina. He holds a Ph.D. in genetics, M.S. in biological sciences, and B.A.S. in biological sciences and English, all from Stanford University. Dr. Dangl’s research topics include using Arabidopsis to identify and isolate loci necessary for disease resistance responses, molecular mechanisms of disease resistance and plant cell death, Pseudomonas syringae Type III effectors, bacterial and plant genomics, and ancient immune systems. Dr. Dangl received the John L. Sanders Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching/Service from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the Prize for Young Researchers from the State of Nord-Rhein-Westfalen in Germany in 1991, and a Plant Molecular Biology Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Science Foundation in 1986–1989. He chaired the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on the Plant Genome Research Initiative 2003–2008 and is a member of the NRC Board on Life Sciences. He currently serves as a member of the Sainsbury Laboratory Council and the Two Blades Foundation scientific advisory board. He was elected to the German Academy of Natural Sciences (“Die Leopoldina”) in 2003 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2007. Lois Banta is an associate professor of biology at Williams College. She received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. She studies the interactions between the soil pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens and its host plants. In particular, she is interested in the mechanism by
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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology which the bacterium delivers a large fragment of DNA into the host plant’s genome, which is the basis for plant genetic engineering, and in the defenses mounted by the plant in response to this pathogen. Dr. Banta has served as the honors thesis adviser to 45 students and has mentored summer/winter projects for more than 60 students. She also teaches courses in agricultural biotechnology in developing economies and in bioinformations, genomics, and proteomics at Williams College. Dr. Banta served as a thesis committee member for two Ph.D. students at the University of Pennsylvania Plant Science Institute. As a Fulbright Senior Fellow in 2000, she taught and carried out research at the Institute for Molecular Plant Sciences at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Over the past 14 years, as a liberal arts college faculty member, she has received continual grant support from the National Science Foundation and has served on NSF review panels on metabolic biochemistry, signal transduction, prokaryotic molecular and cellular biology, and symbiosis, defense, and self-recognition. Roger Boerma is a distinguished professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Georgia. He received his B.S. in general agriculture and agriculture education from Illinois State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Illinois. His responsibilities at the University of Georgia include development of superior-yielding, multiple pest-resistant soybean cultivars; development of molecular technologies to improve the efficiency of soybean cultivar development; identification and characterization of useful genetic variation for soybean improvement; training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in molecular breeding and genetics; teaching a graduate course entitled Quantitative Aspects of Molecular Breeding; program implementation for the Center for Soybean Improvement; and coordination of academic research for the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies. He was responsible for the creation of the University of Georgia Center for Soybean Improvement and currently serves as its director. Dr. Boerma also participated in the development of the University of Georgia Center for Applied Genetic Technologies Initiative (CAGT) and is currently serving as its director for academic plant research. He was the recipient of the American Soybean Association Soybean Production Research Award, American Society of Agronomy Agronomic Achievement Award, Illinois State University Alumni Achievement Award, National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders Genetics and Plant Breeding Award, Crop Science of America Research Award, and Southern Soybean Disease Workers Distinguished Service Award. He is a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology James C. Carrington is the director of The Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing and professor of botany and plant pathology at Oregon State University. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.S. from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Carrington’s research includes small RNA pathways in plants, particularly mechanisms of microRNA-mediated suppression of targets and the roles of microRNA-guided processes during development, and also virus-host interactions controlling compatibility and defense by investigating adaptive antiviral host responses, namely RNA silencing. Dr. Carrington is a recipient of the American Phytopathological Society’s Ruth Allen Award and has served on the Committee on Genetically Modified Pest Protected Plants. Joanne Chory is a professor in the Plant Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and an adjunct professor of biology at the University of California, San Diego. She holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an A.B. in biology from Oberlin College. Dr. Chory’s research uncovers the signaling pathways plants use to detect changes in the sunlight that they receive. At the Salk Institute, she has recently identified a gene, pft1, and characterized a signaling pathway that explains how some plants adjust their growth and flowering to shade. The findings have potentially great significance for commercial farmers, who typically plant their crops so close together that the plants must compete for light. With an understanding of pft1’s role, it may be possible to develop plants that still flower and set seed, even under shady conditions. Dr. Chory is among the world leaders in the study of plant responses to light. She identified many of the genes responsible for the control of plant photomorphogenesis and discovered that this process is regulated by a steroid hormone. She also cloned the receptor for this class of hormones. She is the recipient of the Initiatives in Research Award, the Charles Albert Schull Award, the Kumho Award in Plant Molecular Biology, and Scientific American’s 2003 Research Leader in Agriculture. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999. Steve A. Kay is the dean of biological sciences and the Richard C. Atkinson chair in biological sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He was the chair of the Department of Biochemistry at The Scripps Research Institute from 1996–2007. Prior to joining Scripps, he founded the Phenomix Corporation and served as director of discovery research at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. Dr. Kay received his Ph.D. and B.S. in biochemistry at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. His research focuses on genetics and genomics of circadian clocks by studying the construction and evolution of complex genetic networks that underlie circadian rhythms in animals and plants through the development and use of cutting-edge technologies for measuring transcrip-
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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology tion in live cells, tissues, and intact organisms. He is the recipient of the Honma Prize for Life Sciences, the W.M. Keck Foundation Junior Faculty Award, and the NIH Director’s Shannon Award. He holds three patents and currently serves on the board of the Center of Gene Research and Biotechnology and as member of the Sainsbury Laboratory. Suzanna Lewis is the leader of the informatics group in the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) and a founder of the Gene Ontology Consortium. She was a scientist with the Human Genome Center’s informatics group that developed the software to address problems related to the electronic capture, representation, and organization of data generated by the genome laboratories. The group works with biologists and engineers at the center to provide many forms of computer assistance, including custom software, access to external databases, and tools for portability of data. In addition, the group is concerned with longer-range problems of sequence and clone assembly, database design, and tools for data management. Thomas Mitchell-Olds is professor of biology at Duke University. He obtained his Ph.D. in botany and in the Program in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at the University of Wisconsin and did his postdoctoral studies in human genetics. He spent nine years as the director of the Max-Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology and has recently returned to the United States. He uses an interdisciplinary approach incorporating functional genomics, physiology, and population and quantitative genetics to understand the genetic architecture and evolutionary significance of complex trait variation within and among plant populations. His ongoing experiments focus on wild relatives of Arabidopsis, as well as an expanding emphasis on drought tolerance in cereals and comparative genomics of grasses. Neelima R. Sinha is a professor of plant biology at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Sinha holds a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. in environmental studies from Baylor University. Her research focuses on studying fundamental mechanisms of leaf development using model organisms, such as tomato and Arabidopsis. To understand how leaves evolved, she and members of her laboratory are studying other organisms like Welwitschia mirabilis, Kalanchoe diagremontinan, ferns, cycads, and basal and derived angiosperms. Her collaborative research with Kenyatta University in Nairobi aims at improving maize resistance to the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica. She is the recipient of the Katherine Esau Junior Faculty Fellowship and the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentorship.
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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology Michael Snyder is the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and a professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University. He is also the director of the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics. Dr. Snyder holds a Ph.D. in biology from the California Institute of Technology and a B.A. in chemistry and biology from the University of Rochester. He uses global approaches to explore protein function and dissect regulatory networks. Several of his areas of research are control of cell division and cell morphogenesis in yeast, characterization of proteomes, and analysis of regulatory circuits in yeast. He was a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Scholar Award, the Pew Scholar Award, the Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the NIH Predoctoral Training Fellowship. He was a member of the NRC HHMI Predoctoral Fellowships Panel on Cell Biology and Immunology. Steven H. Strauss is a professor in the Forest Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Genetics Programs at Oregon State University. He is also director of the university’s Program in Outreach in Biotechnology, which seeks to promote public and professional understanding of the potential benefits and risks associated with natural resource biotechnologies. He holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.F.S. in forest science from Yale University, and a B.S. in biology from Cornell University. Dr. Strauss’s current research focuses on modifying the architecture, chemistry, and flowering of poplars for wood, bioproduct, and energy uses. He directs a university-industry research cooperative that aims to advance knowledge of genomics and biosafety technologies for genetic engineering of trees. He is a Stanford Institute for the Environment Leopold Fellow (2005). He served on the NRC Committees to Review the R&D Strategy for Biomass-Derived Ethanol and Biodiesel Transportation Fuels, and on the Impacts of GMOs on Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife and Habitats. He has edited two books and published more than 150 scientific and professional publications. Eric R. Ward is the president of the Two Blades Foundation. He received his Ph.D. in plant biology from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a graduate fellow of the National Science Foundation. He received his B.S in biology magna cum laude from Duke University. Dr. Ward served most recently as co-president of Novartis (now Syngenta) Agribusiness Biotechnology Research, where he was responsible for a staff of 270, including researchers and all administrative functions such as finance, patents, business development, public affairs, human resources, and facilities. Simultaneously, he was head of target discovery for Novartis Crop Protection AG, where he implemented a fully integrated agricultural chemical lead discovery program based on proprietary molecular targets. This program relied on extensive interactions with biotechnology firms and academic laboratories.
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Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology Prior to that, he was a research director for the Novartis herbicide business unit, during which time his team invented the Acuron™ hebicide tolerance technology, developed corn and sugar beet varieties engineered with the Acuron™ gene and built the patent strategy to protect the technology. Prior to that, he worked in Basel, Switzerland, as a project leader for Ciba Crop Protection in the Weed Control business unit. Dr. Ward began his career in 1988 with Ciba-Geigy as a postdoctoral associate, during which time he pioneered methods for the cloning of large DNA fragments from plants. Dr. Ward has authored more than 65 scientific publications and is inventor on more than 20 issued patents.