Plant scientists, innovators

Fifteen plant biologists are selected to take part in a new initiative in fundamental plant science research.

By | June 16, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, SUI-SETZ

Today, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF) named 15 plant biologists as HHMI-GBMF Investigators and tapped them to receive a chunk of the $75 million the two organizations are pumping into plant science research over the next 5 years. Chosen from a group of more than 200 applicants on the basis of their "potential for significant research productivity and originality," the selected scientists will receive an initial five-year HHMI appointment, with the possibility to be renewed, and funding to support their research on wheat, maize, tomato, Arabidopsis, and other plants.

“These Investigators will acquire new knowledge about—and possibly find innovative solutions to—some of the most pressing challenges in plant sciences,” Vicki L. Chandler, Chief Program Officer for Science at GBMF, said in a press release. "GBMF and HHMI believe the research will generate high-impact discoveries with implications for a range of intertwined concerns facing society: food production, human health, protection of the environment, and identification of renewable energy resources."

One of the new Investigators had already caught the eye of The Scientist: Dominique Bergmann of Stanford University is this month's Scientist to Watch. Her research focuses on the molecular pathway of stomatal cell differentiation, as well as the physical mechanisms that drive asymmetric cell divisions during stomatal development, and she is developing the tools needed to do so. “She’s made some significant discoveries in plants,” her PhD advisor William Wood of the University of Colorado told The Scientist. “It’s been fun to watch her career progress.”

The new HHMI-GBMF investigators will begin their appointments this September. Find a complete list of the selected 15 and learn more about their research on the HHMI website.

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