Courtesy of Photographic Services, Indiana University

Jeffrey Palmer
Mention gene sequencing and most people probably think of disease cures and supercrops. But genes mean a whole lot more, including deep insight into how present-day species got here.

Indiana University biology professor Jeffrey Palmer practically invented the field of plant molecular systematics and phylogeny--using genes to inform taxonomic relationships and evolutionary history. According to Palmer's colleague at Indiana, Loren Rieseberg, "Palmer is considered by many to be the world leader in evolutionary genomics .... I can think of no one who has contributed more to our understanding of how eukaryotic genomes evolve and interact." Robert Jansen, Palmer's first postdoctoral fellow and now a biology professor at the University of Texas in Austin, agrees: "He's largely responsible for the field exploding into what it is now."

Palmer started his scientific career as a Stanford University graduate student in the late...

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