A photo of soybeans
The Right Chemistry, 1935
Percy Lavon Julian, a young, Black scientist working in Jim Crow America, gained international recognition after beating chemists at the University of Oxford in the race to synthesize the alkaloid physostigmine, used for decades as a treatment for glaucoma.
ABOVE: © iStock.com, DS70
The Right Chemistry, 1935
The Right Chemistry, 1935

Percy Lavon Julian, a young, Black scientist working in Jim Crow America, gained international recognition after beating chemists at the University of Oxford in the race to synthesize the alkaloid physostigmine, used for decades as a treatment for glaucoma.

Percy Lavon Julian, a young, Black scientist working in Jim Crow America, gained international recognition after beating chemists at the University of Oxford in the race to synthesize the alkaloid physostigmine, used for decades as a treatment for glaucoma.

ABOVE: © iStock.com, DS70

plant science

Man in personal protective equipment (glasses, gloves, cap, and coat) watching plants go through a piece of machinery.
Canada Approves World’s First Plant-Based COVID-19 Vaccine
Natalia Mesa | Feb 25, 2022
Canada has ordered 76 million doses of Covifenz, the main ingredient of which was manufactured in the leaves of a tobacco relative.
Sunflowers, in visible spectrum on left half (yellow colors) and UV spectrum on right half (purple and white colors).
Sunflowers’ Bee-Attracting Ultraviolet Also Helps Retain Moisture
Natalia Mesa | Feb 8, 2022
The dual purposes of the plants’ hidden colors may conflict as the climate warms, authors of a new study suggest.
Formed of various flowers, this personification cartoon of a female botanist, painted by George Spratt, was pasted into Allen’s copy of The English Flora.
La Botaniste, 1810–1865
Sukanya Charuchandra | Jan 4, 2022
Elaborate annotations hidden in a copy of Sir James Edward Smith’s The English Flora hinted at the life of a mysterious woman botanist.
Photograph looking up a tree trunk
Contrary to Common Belief, Some Older Trees Make Fewer Seeds
Annie Melchor | Nov 1, 2021
An analysis of more than half a million trees reveals that many species begin to taper off seed production once they hit a certain size.
Yuan Longping wearing a longsleeve white shirt, doing an interview in a rice field.
Hybrid Rice Developer Yuan Longping Dies at 90
Lisa Winter | May 26, 2021
The high-yield variety of rice he produced in the 1970s prevented countless people from dying of starvation.
Richard Staples, Dick Staples, plant pathology, rust fungus, Uromyces appendiculatus, Cornell, Boyce Thompson Institute
Dick Staples, Plant Pathologist, Dies at 94
Asher Jones | Feb 1, 2021
The Boyce Thompson Institute researcher’s work revealed key insights into how plant pathogens recognize and colonize their hosts.
William Danforth, Longtime Research Philanthropist, Dies at 94
Max Kozlov | Sep 22, 2020
Danforth founded the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and expanded scientific research at Washington University and beyond campus in St. Louis.
Enter a Ghost Forest
The Scientist Staff | Mar 1, 2020
Take a tour of a forest killed by salt inundation brought by rising seas—a powerful reminder that climate change is affecting ecosystems around the world.
Sowing Seeds of Change
The Scientist Staff | Mar 1, 2020
Watch Profilee Joanne Chory deliver a TED talk on her project to breed climate change–busting plants.
Book Excerpt from Tree Story
Valerie Trouet | Mar 1, 2020
In Chapter 5, “The Messiah, the Plague, and Shipwrecks under the City,” author Valerie Trouet tells the tale of wooden structures crafted by Europeans millennia ago and how dendrochronology helped determine their age.
Confessing to Plant Blindness
Bob Grant | Mar 1, 2020
I have taken plants for granted. I pledge to change.
Opinion: Tree Rings as Soothsayers
Valerie Trouet | Mar 1, 2020
Not only can studying the growth patterns obscured within tree trunks tell us about the past, the field can also help us plan for the future.
The Scientist Infographics: Editor’s Picks of 2019
Jef Akst | Dec 18, 2019
This year’s most beautiful illustrations covered topics including the molecular underpinnings of Parkinson’s disease and strategies for tracking marine organisms around the world’s oceans.
Mind the Vines
The Scientist Staff | Feb 1, 2019
Watch UC Davis researcher and February profilee Neelima Sinha discuss her studies of parasitic vines and their interactions with plant hosts.
Maria, Maria
The Scientist Staff | Feb 1, 2019
Trek along with NASA scientists surveying the damage to Puerto Rican forests wrought by Hurricane Maria, which slammed into the island in 2017.
Boosting Plants’ Uptake of Vitamins and Minerals
Ashley Yeager | Feb 1, 2019
With genetic tweaks, researchers can coax corn and other cereals to take in more iron, but sometimes the plants rebel.
Sports Videos Give Clues to Climate Change
Ashley Yeager | Oct 1, 2018
Archived footage of cycling races and other events can help ecologists track the timing of plants’ leafing and flowering.
An Enduring Partnership
Bob Grant | Feb 1, 2018
Humanity would be nothing without plants. It’s high time we recognize their crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.
Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi Investigates How Pathogens Invade Plant Roots
Shawna Williams | Feb 1, 2018
The Purdue University researcher is one of the first to examine the molecular processes that underlie infection by soil microbes.