Society Launches DeLill Nasser Award

When scientists announced the genomic sequence of the small mustard plant Arabidopsis last December, they also recognized the role played by federal agencies in supporting the project, particularly the role played by the National Science Foundation.1 Among NSF staffers, researchers chose DeLill Nasser, head of NSF's eukoryotic genetics program, for special mention.2,3 Nasser was too ill with cancer to accept an award from the group in person at a special Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting Dec

By | May 14, 2001

When scientists announced the genomic sequence of the small mustard plant Arabidopsis last December, they also recognized the role played by federal agencies in supporting the project, particularly the role played by the National Science Foundation.1 Among NSF staffers, researchers chose DeLill Nasser, head of NSF's eukoryotic genetics program, for special mention.2,3 Nasser was too ill with cancer to accept an award from the group in person at a special Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory meeting Dec. 7. Says Philip Harriman, program director for microbial genetics at NSF, "She funded a lot of the people who established Arabidopsis as a model genetic organism in the 1980s. She then handled NSF funding for the sequencing work. The whole field is indebted to her for support." Nasser died shortly after the Arabidopsis sequence was published.

In her 22 years as program director, Nasser promoted other important projects, including research in Drosophila. NSF gave Nasser its Director's Award in 2000 for "her longstanding commitment to scientific excellence and dedication to the research and education community, which have enabled real progress in genetics research." Now, the Genetics Society of America is honoring Nasser, a long-time member of the organization. The Society's DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics will provide financial assistance to students and postdoctoral fellows for attending meetings, workshops, and courses. Harriman thinks the award is fitting: "She was always interested in helping students get going. It's the right kind of award to be established in her name." The Genetics Society of America is accepting tax-deductible contributions for the award.

References
1. B.A. Palevitz, "Arabidopsis genome," The Scientist, 15[1]:1, Jan. 8, 2001.

2. G.R. Fink, "Anatomy of a revolution," Genetics, 149:473-7, 1998.

3. The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative, "Analysis of the genome sequence of the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana," Nature, 408:796-815, Dec. 14, 2000.

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