Congratulations to...


Recent graduates Paul Nabity and Clare Casteel on their new positions as Assistant Professors at Washington State University and UC Davis, respectively.

Graduate student Kristen BishopKristinB, for winning a 2014 ARCS Scholar Award, the first for any Illinois Plant Biology graduate student!

BeckySGraduate student Rebecca Slattery on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Analyzing variation in plant canopy conversion efficiency and assessing canopy and leaf photosyntheic efficiency in soybean with reduced chlorophyll content" under Don Ort.

LynnMGraduate student Lynnicia Massenburg for winning both a University of Illinois Graduate College Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to work toward her Ph.D. under Steve Long.

FengShengProfessor Feng Sheng Hu for his appointment as R.E. Grim Professor of Geology, an endowed chair in the Department of Geology, and for his selection as the 2014-15 Interim Associate Dean for the Sciences in the College of LAS.

BobVGraduate Student Robert VanBuren on his Ph.D.and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Dissecting the evolutionary forces shaping early sex chromosome evolution in papaya" under Ray Ming. Bob moves on to a post-doc at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, having won an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to work there with Todd Mockler.

MattSGraduate Student Matthew Siebers on his Ph.D.and successful defense of his thesis entitled "The effects of regionally defined heat waves in Central Illinois on soy bean and corn yield and physiology at current and future CO2" under Don Ort.

JenneHGraduate Student Ryan Kelly on his Ph.D.and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Fire regime change and the boreal forest carbon cycle from 10,000 years ago to 2100 AD" under Feng Sheng Hu, and for his receipt of the 2014 Robert Emerson Memorial Award, the School of Integrative Biology's highest graduate student honor. Ryan moves on to a postdoc position a Duke.

JenneHGraduate Student Xiaohui 'Sunny' Feng on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "The Productivity, Physiology, Community Dynamics and Ecological Impacts of a Grassland Agro-Ecosystem: Integrating Field Studies and Modeling" under Mike Dietze, now at Boston University. Sunny moves on to a postdoc at Columbia University.

JenneHGraduate Student Jennifer Han on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Sex chromosome evolution of papaya: Dynamic structural and expression changes and identification of sex associated traits" under Ray Ming.

CourtneyLGraduate Student Courtney Leisner on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Physiological and transcriptomic responses of soybean reproductive processes to global climate change" under Lisa Ainsworth. Courtney moves on to a postdoc with Robin Buell at Michigan State.

UrsulaRVGraduate Student Ursula Ruiz Vera on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Influences and consequences of increased temperature and CO2 on soybean photosynthesis and its relation to water supply" under Carl Bernacchi. Ursula moves on to a postdoc here with Steve Long.

CarlBFaculty member Carl Bernacchi for his selection as a 2014-15 Helen Corley Petit Scholar by the College of LAS.

PimTGraduate Student Pimonrat Tiansawat on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Ecological significance of seed traits in the genus Macaranga" under Jim Dalling. Pim moves on to a position as Lecturer at Chiang Mai University in Thailand.

CarlBFaculty member Andrew Leakey for his selection as a 2013-14 I.C. Gunsalus Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

MatiasFGraduate Student Matias Fernandez on winning a 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to work toward his PhD on post-glacial migration dynamics of conifers under Feng Sheng Hu.

LorenaRAGraduate Student Lorena Rios Acosta on winning a 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to work toward her PhD on the effect of elevated ozone on maize male and female reproductive organs in maize. Andrew Leakey.

DanRGraduate Student Dan Raudabaugh on his M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Nutritional capability of and substrate suitability for Pseudogymnoascus destructans, the causal agent of bat white-nose syndrome?" under Andrew Miller. Dan continues into a Ph.D. program with Andrew.

SharonGGraduate Student Sharon Gray on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Interactive effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentration and water availability on field-grown soybean (Glycine max)" under Andrew Leakey. Sharon moves on to UC Davis with her NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Siobhan Brady.

AnnaLGraduate Student Anna Locke on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Dynamics of soybean leaf hydraulic conductance and diurnal soybean transcriptome analysis" under Don Ort. Anna moves on to a postdoc position with Julia Bailey-Serres at UC Riverside.

RishiAGraduate Student Rishi Aryal on his Ph.D.and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Epigenetics and sex expression in trioecious papaya" under Ray Ming. Rishi moves on to a postdoc position with Hailing Jin at UC Riverside.

CodyMGraduate Student Robert 'Cody' Markelz on his Ph.D.and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Interactive effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentration with nutrient availability and leaf development on plant carbon metabolism" under Andrew Leakey. Cody moves on to a postdoc position with Julin Maloof at UC Davis.

PamHGraduate Student Pamela Hall on her M.S. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Evidence for reversible phosphorylation as a post-translational regulatory mechanism in the chlorophyll catabolic pathway" under Don Ort.

PamHGraduate Student Molly McNicoll on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Enhancement of diversity via disturbance and seed addition in two sand prairies dominated by different grasses" under Carol Augspurger. Molly moves on to an Assistant Professor position at Luther College.

SteveLFaculty member Stephen Long on his selection as a 2013 Rothamsted Fellow. Rothamsted is the oldest continuously operating agricultural experiment station in the world and elects 20 fellows yearly. Steve was also the recipient of the triennial 2013 Innovation Prize from the International Society for Photosynthesis Research as well as the 2012 Marsh Award for Climate Change Research presented annually by the British Ecological Society.

AmyBGraduate Student Amy Betzelberger on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Current and future consequences of tropospheric ozone on soybean biochemistry, physiology and yield" under Lisa Ainsworth. Amy moves on to a postdoc position at Capetown Univeristy.

Faculty member Lisa Ainsworth for receiving the prestigious 2012 Charles Albert Schull Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists. ASPB's Schull Award Committee noted that Lisa deserves the award "for her impressive scholarship that she incorporates into her teaching and service. Lisa’s pioneering research on current and potential impacts of global and environmental change on both natural and managed plant ecosystems is widely appreciated." Lisa was also named a U of I University Scholar for 2012.

Gutgsell Endowed Professor Stephen Long SteveL for receiving the 2012 Charles F. Kettering Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists "for his many seminal discoveries of the responses of photosynthesis to changes in the physical environment as well as the role of photosynthesis in mitigating climate change. Most recently, he and collaborators are developing plants as renewable sources of liquid fuel and addressing the social, economic, and ethical dimensions of allocating part of the food-producing landscape to the production of fuel."

Plant Biology alumnus Karl Karl NiklasNiklas for his selection for the University of Illinois Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Achievement Award for 2012. Karl earned both his MS (1971) and PhD (1974) in Botany at Illinois, under the guidance of eminent paleoecologist Tom L. Phillips (Professor Emeritus, Plant Biology). Niklas is currently the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell University. He pioneered the areas of plant biomechanics, allometry, and functional morphology, and has received numerous prestigious awards in recognition for his long-standing contributions to understanding plant evolutionary biology.

Faculty member Lisa Lisa AinsworthAinsworth for receiving the prestigious 2011 President's Medal from the Society for Experimental Biology. The SEB President's Medal goes to "young scientists of outstanding merit". The Society cited Lisa's contributions to "understanding and integrating the molecular, biochemical and physiogical responses of plants to global change....mechanisms of ozone tolerance in soybean and other leguminous species." Lisa was also named an I.C. Gunsalus Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for 2011-12.

DaveSeiglerProfessor David Seigler for his appointment as a U.S. Fullbright Senior Specialist in the Department of Basic Sciences of the Universidad del Bío-Bío in Chillán, Chile. There, Dave will share his expertise on plant secondary metabolism and chemical ecology, collaborate with Chilean colleagues Drs. Carlos L. Céspedes, Julio Alarcón and Luis Lillo, and consult with the Dirección de Investigación concerning the future role of programs in research and development at Bío-Bío.

Faculty member Carl CarlBernacchiBernacchi for his selection as the 2010 Melvin Calvin Award winner by the International Society of Photosynthesis Research for his "outstanding studies on carbon fixation and climate change". ISPR's Calvin Award is given annually to a young scientist in recognition of outstanding investigations into metabolic and cellular aspects of the photosynthetic process.

Faculty member and Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology Don Ort for his designation as aFS Hu Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  In presenting this honor, AAAS recognized Don for his research accomplishments in the area of photosynthesis, ranging from molecular mechanisms to ecosystems scale responses, and for leadership through service in professional societies.

2010GradAwardeesOur graduate students for awards they received for research and teaching at the 2010 School of Integrative Biology Awards Reception held on May 6 at the Levis Center: Clare Baldeck (Outstanding Teaching), Kelly Gillespie (Govindjee), Pamela Hall (Laughnan) Ryan Kelly (Govindjee), Anna Locke (Laugnan), Paul Nabity (Robert Emerson & Outstanding Teaching); Olivia Niziolek (Laugnan), Yinghong Pan (Labinsky), Rhiannon Peery (Labinsky), Miranda Segura (Lebus) and Ashley Spence (Laughnan).

Professor Ray FS HuMing for landing a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support his work on sex determination in papaya. Ray has discovered that papaya is in the process of evolving sex chromosomes, much like the human X-Y. His research is ultimately aimed at developing a self-fertile hermaphrodite strain that can simplify and improve papaya production throughout the world. Read more here.

Govindjee PhotoPlant Biology Emeritus Professor Govindjee for the honor of receiving an Alumni Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences here at the University of Illinois (which also happens to be Govindjee's alma mater: Ph.D., 1960 under Robert Emerson and Eugene Rabinowitch). No one shares a more passionate and generous curiosity about photosynthesis than Govindjee. This award recognizes Gov's enormous scientific output and famously evangelical enthusiasm about photosynthesis research.

Bohnert & Long

Faculty members Hans Bohnert and Steve Long for their designations as 2009 Fellows of the American Society of Plant Biologists. This honor recognizes members who have made "major contributions to the discipline".

FS HuPlant Biology graduate students for awards they received for research and teaching at the 2009 School of Integrative Biology Awards Reception held on May 7 at the Illini Union: Frank Doleman (Robert Emerson Memorial Award); Kelly Gillespie (Harley J. Van Cleave Graduate Research Award), Jenny Cordes (Harold C. and Sonja L. Labinsky Award) and Amy Betzelberger, Frank Doleman and Molly McNicoll (John R. Laughnan Award)

Plant Biology Department Head Feng Sheng Hu for his FS Hu designation as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In presenting this honor, AAAS recognized Feng Sheng for his distinguished contributions to the fields of paleoecology and paleoclimatology, notably for deepening our understanding of the development of boreal ecosystems through the Holocene epoch.

Emeritus Professor of Plant Biology Govindjee (pictured here at left with fellow emeritus Professor Tom Phillips) for the honor of having an international conference organized in recognition of his contributions to the field. The gathering, entitled "Photosynthesis in the Global Perspective", was held at the Devi Ahilya University in Indore, India. The organizers had this to say: "Through his researches spanning over fifty years, Professor Govindjee has contributed immensely to photosynthesis. His personal and professional attitude towards science has been inspiring for everyone who has come in contact with him." We couldn't agree more. (see Meeting Report here)

Plant Biologist Steven Huber for winning the 2008 Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research from the American Society of Plant Biology, "made biennially to a plant scientist whose work both illuminates the present and suggests paths to enlighten the future." Way to go, Steve!

Plant Biology graduate students for awards they received for research and teaching at the 2008 School of Integrative Biology Awards Reception held on May 1 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts: Devi Annamalai (Labinsky), Ben Clegg (Honors teaching), Clark Danderson (Ross, Labinsky), Mary Ann Feist (Laughnan), George Hickman (Laughnan), Justin McGrath (Laughnan), Cecile Sano (Govindjee) and Victoria Wittig (Emerson, Laughnan)

Professor Ray Ming for being invited to highlight his Papaya research on the cover of the January 2008 issue of the Plant Journal 's research program. The report from Ray's group that's contained inside describes their comparison of DNA sequences between incipient X and hermaphrodite Y sex chromosomes in papaya.

Plant Biology faculty members Stephen Long (left) and Steven Huber (right) for their election as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the organization best known as the publisher of Science, the premier scientific weekly journal in the U.S.

Professor Stephen Long for his award of an honorary degree by the University of Lancaster, NorthWest England's leading institution of higher education. Read more here. (Nice hat Steve. Did you get to keep it?)


Jeff Dawson and Dave Seigler


Steve Huber introduces his colloquium talk


Dueling skeptics Andy Leakey and Don Ort


Not mannequins, but Ray Zielinski, Chance Riggins and Cody Markelz


David Rosenthal sets Govindjee straight on a fine point


Carol Augspurger gets the group talking at her Colloquium


David Rosenthal and Victoria Wittig


Kelly Gillespie, Clark Danderson, Katherine Chi at Happy Hour


Katherine Chi, Eli Schwarz, Ed Dole, John Cheeseman and Cecile Sano discuss phenology at Carol Augspurger's colloquium.

ColinWe mourn the passing of our beloved colleague, COLIN WRAIGHT. Colin will be remembered for his exquisite combination of intellect, wit, modesty and generosity. Throughout his nearly 40 year research career in protein biophysics at Illinois, Colin delighted in uncovering secrets of protein-mediated transfer of protons and electrons in energy conversions occurring in chloroplasts, mitochondria and bacteria using state-of-the-art technologies from genetic engineering to spectroscopy. Colin was treasured by all as a kind, creative and unerringly sensible colleague in the laboratory, in the classroom and in routine institutional matters. Characteristically sitting front and center in seminar audiences, Colin would invariably lead off the question period with an acutely incisive query for the speaker, never to call attention to himself, but simply to satisfy his urgent curiosity about biological mechanisms at all levels. Our hearts go out to Colin's family and all who knew and loved him. Read Govindjee's Tribute to Colin here.

3D Soybean DataTHE RIPE INITIATIVE TO INCREASE PHOTOSYNTHETIC EFFICIENCY. Genetic engineers are busy modifying plant genomes in all sorts of creative and profitable ways. But what about simply trying to enhance the fundamental process for which all life -- including human survival -- relies on the green kingdom: Photosynthesis. A team led by Don Ort and Steve Long is giving it a promising shot under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An early product of the effort is a computational modeling study, in collaboration with Illinois civil engineering colleague Praveen Kumar, reporting that soybeans can be bred to simultaneously (1) optimize productivity, (2) minimize water demand and (3) increase plant light reflectivity to reduce global warming. Click for the RIPE story, the soybean modeling trifecta news story and its associated research paper.

RadioON THE AIR. Faculty member Stephen Long was recently interviewed by passionate science communicator Dr. Marie McNeely on her People Behind the Science web broadcast channel. Listen to what Steve had to say about his life and science here.

ThankYou!A MOST GENEROUS GIFT! We are forever indebted to alumni Alexander A. and Eva Caren (Collver) Goloff for their generous gift to our program. Dr. Goloff earned his doctorate under Fakhri Bazzaz in Plant Biology and went on to a highly successful career in private industry with several Fortune 500 companies. Read about their gift to Plant Biology here.

LotusGENOMICS GOES EXOTIC. The plummeting cost of DNA sequencing is rendering ever more exotic plant species accessible to genetic scrutiny. Case in point: Ray Ming's collaborative analysis of the genome of the Sacred Lotus. Not just a frivolous curiosity, Nelumbo nucifera sports a wealth of unique physiological features whose genetic underpinnings are well worth revealing. Read about it here.

fungiPRIME RIB FOR FUNGI. That's how Plant Biology affiliate professor Andrew Miller describes the cave-dwelling bats that are preyed upon by the appropriately named Pseudogymnoascus (formally Geomyces) destructans, the fungus that causes bat white-nose syndrome. The disease has killed as much as 20% of the species in the US and further losses are inevitable if a control is not found. Andrew and Plant Biology graduate student Dan Raudabaugh examined the pathogen's nutritional requirements in an effort to understand its ecology and thus, hopefully, discover a way to stop it. Unfortunately, the fungus is anything but finicky, happily nibbling on any and all cave detritis, both animal and vegetable, biding its time until the main course is served, the bat's wings and nose. So the ball is definitely in the bats' court: Develop immunity or continue to decline until P. destructans has to move down the menu to another host as appetizing and satisfying as the bat. Read the details of Andrew and Dan's study in PLOS ONE, the Los Angeles Times and Science Daily.

PSMersWELCOME! Plant Biology welcomes new graduate students into the biotechnology-focused Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program, which was established in 2011.  The new students (l-r), Troy Driskell, Julian Alvarado, Andrew Gabalis, Haorui Yang and Xinyi Tu bring unique backgrounds, scientific interests and career goals to our 15-month degree program.  From the outset of their training in the PSM, the students merge their science and business coursework with hands-on applications.  Among these, the industry team projects, developed in collaboration with our business partners, are centerpieces of the Plant Biology PSM.  Our new students have already launched their first project with LICOR Biosciences in a venture that merges lab-based research with the development and implementation of product marketing strategies.  Learn more about our new grad students and the Plant Biology’s science + business MS program.

MegaphoneIS SCIENCE JUST FOR SCIENTISTS? The National Science Foundation certainly doesn't think so. And fortunately for us, our students and the non-scientist public, neither does faculty member Katy Heath. Her acclaimed Amplify the Signal project creatively aims to improve our students' ability and willingness to share their passions and discoveries with the public. Read about it here.

Climate dataCLIMATE CHANGE BAD FOR YOU? A recent study co-authored by faculty member Andrew Leakey confirmed a worrying suspicion about our food supply under a likely near-term climate change scenario. Andrew and his international team of collaborators' study suggests that under predicted mid-century conditions SoySunsetof 550 ppm atmospheric carbon dioxide (compared to 400 ppm now), the levels of key nutrients for the human diet are destined to decline in important crop species such as wheat, rice, peas and beans. The physiological basis for the decline in zinc, iron and protein in some crop species remains a mystery, but genetic variation for nutrient stability under environmental variation suggests breeding may help prop up nutrient levels. Read the story here and the Nature paper here.

Long&ChuCONGRATULATIONS OF THE HIGHEST ORDER. Illinois Plant Biologist and Gutgsell Professor Stephen Long has been elected a FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON, the United Kingdom's most elite scientific body. Shown here describing his biofuels research to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu at a recent Advanced Research Projects Agenecy-Energy (ARPA-E) summit in Washington, D.C., Stephen was cited by the Royal Society thus: "His integration of mechanistic models with novel techniques in environmental physiology and innovative large-scale field experiments have changed understanding of how global change affects productivity and physiology scaling from molecular to regional levels, and has informed approaches to improving crop yield. His work contributed to the emergence of Miscanthus as a major bioenergy crop and provided a novel framework for increasing crop yields through improved photosynthetic efficiency." Read more at the Institute for Genomic Biology's site here. Congratulations Stephen!

FODDER FOR FUEL. If plants are to make a significant contribution to modern society's seemingly unquenchable thirst for liquid fuels, we'll need to choose, understand and breed the best species for the job. A multi-institutional team that includes Illinois Plant Biologist Andrew Leakey has been awarded a five-year, $12.1 million grant from the US Department of Energy to explore genetically, physiologically and agronomically Foxtail Millet (Setaria viridis). The project, lead by the St. Louis Danforth Center, seeks to elevate the relatively obscure S. viridis LeakeySetariaYouTubeto the level of "model organism", with insights from the study of which to be rapidly applied to its cousins, promising biofuel feedstock candidates, Miscanthus and switchgrass. Andy's research program will receive $1.8M of the award to focus on drought tolerance. Read the story or watch the video to hear Andy describe the project. Andy's DOE Biofuels project was recently featured on a segment of EarthSky. Click here to listen to the episode.

LisaAMASTER CLASS ON CROPS & CLIMATE CHANGE. Faculty member Lisa Ainsworth was called upon to share her expertise on climate change, crop yields and food security at an Illinois Summer Teacher Institute at the University of Chicago entitled, "Feeding the World: Challenges to Achieving Food Security". Lucky for us, they taped the entire presentation and posted it on YouTube here.

RyanKCarolynCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology grad student Ryan Kelly and PEEC grad student Carolyn Barrett, winner and runner-up, respectively, of the Deevey Award from the Paleoecology Section of the Ecological Society of America. The award is given annually "to honor [Edward S.] Deevey's contributions through fostering the highest quality paleoecological research by graduate students. The award recognizes the best oral or poster presentation in paleoecology by a graduate student at the annual meeting of the Society." Ryan's award-winning talk was entitled "Pushing the limits of the Alaskan boreal forest fire regime: Modern changes in a 10,000 year context" and Carolyn's, "How many lake-sediment cores do we need to characterize regional fire-regime changes using macro-charcoal records?". Both Ryan and Carolyn work with Feng Sheng Hu.

papaya flowersON THE ORIGINS OF SEX [chromosomes]. We may take for granted the X and Y chromosomes that largely determine our, and many plants', genders. But they weren't born out of thin air. They evolved by chance and selection from garden variety non-sex chromosomes called autosomes. Our human X and Y are about 167 million years old. Illinois Plant Biologist Ray Ming's team discovered that papaya's Yh chromosome was born a mere 7 million years ago when a major sequence rearrangement in the DNA of a papaya autosome occurred by chance, genetically isolating it from recombination with its erstwhile partner autosome. The Yh was further estranged 5 million years later with a second major inversion and continues to evolve to this day, slowly losing genes. At the same time, the papaya X chromosome is growing, bloating up with repetitive gene-less DNA. These and other findings were reported by Ray and co-workers in a pair of papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Paul NabityCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Paul Nabity on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Eco-physiological and molecular manipulation of leaf-level primary and secondary metabolism by arthropod herbivory" under Evan DeLucia. Paul moves on to a postdoc with Noah Whiteman at the University of Arizona.

Ashley SpenceCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Ashley Spence on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Understanding the physiological and molecular basis of chilling tolerance across species of the C4 genera Miscanthus and Spartina " under Stephen Long. Ashley moves on to position at Procter & Gamble.

PSMstudentsBiotechnology Professional Science Master's students chart a new course for the Plant Biology graduate degree programs: The Professional Science Master's (PSM) in Plant Biology is situated at the exciting intersection of the science and business of biotechnology, this non-thesis, 16-month program of study merges interdisciplinary graduate studies with the business knowledge and skills vital to the management needs of biotechnology industries. The PSM in Plant Biology enhances the preparation of students for these careers by embedding experiential learning and industry connections into a biotechnology-focused course of study. The first Plant Biology PSM students are advancing their interests in R&D, public relations, market research and consulting. Learn More…

Andrea GschwendCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Andrea Gschwend on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Molecular analysis of sex chromosome evolution in papaya" under Ray Ming. Andrea moves on to a postdoc position at the University of Chicago.

PS spectrumENGINEERED BETTER THAN EVOLVED? Are manufactured photovoltaic cells as efficient as plant photosynthesis yet? It's a challenging question to answer, partly due to the radically different processes involved: Photovoltaics make electricity, photosynthesis produces bonds between atoms in molecules. Illinois Plant Biologist Don Ort contributed his unsurpassed photosynthesis expertise to answering this question in an influential Science Magazine report. To make the comparison, Ort and co-authors theoretically converted photovoltaic energy into the molecular energy of hydrogen and oxygen, the former of which they then theoretically 'burned' to make the comparison. One surprising conclusion is that photovoltaics are actually several-fold more efficient than plants at converting solar photons into hydrogen energy. This led the authors to suggest areas in which plant photosynthesis could be improved for biofuel production, perhaps by engineering plants to exploit more of the red end of the light spectrum than they have evolved to use thus far. Read the report in Science or listen to the Science Podcast about it.

BeckyACONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Rebecca Arundale on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "The higher productivity of the bioenergy feedstock Miscanthus x giganteus relative to Panicum virgatum is seen both into the long term and beyond Illinois" under Stephen Long. Becky moves on to a position at BP Biofuels.

Bosola OladiendeCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Adebosola Oladiende on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Classification of ornamental accessions of Miscanthus with molecular techniques" under Stephen Long.Bosola moves on to a position at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

GeorgeHCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student George Hickman on his M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "A comparison of canopy evapotranspiration for maize and two perennial grasses identified as potential bioenergy crops" under Carl Bernacchi.

DanielleCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Danielle Ruffatto on her M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Population dynamics and reproductive ecology of the gynodioecious prairie species Lobelia spicata Lam. (Campanulaceae)" under Brenda Molano-Flores.

OliviaNCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Olivia Niziolek on her M.S. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Impact of elevated carbon dioxide and increased temperature on Japanese beetle herbivory" under Evan DeLucia.

KatieRCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Katie Richter on her M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Stomatal sensitivity to photosynthetic and environmental signals in glycine max grown at elevated atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and O3" under Don Ort.

PlantsiViewA MAJOR OUTREACH INITIATIVE. Congratulations to Plant Biology graduate students for landing a $20,000 grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists to develop PlantsiView, an after school program to bring Plant Awareness to students at the Urbana Middle School. Kudos to Cody Markelz, Ryan Kelly, Rhiannon Peery, Miranda Segura, Sharon Gray, Courtney Leisner, Becky Slattery and PI and faculty adviser Andrew Leakey for their great work on a successful proposal.

Titania02THOUSANDS TUNE IN FOR BIG STINK. Titania, our Amorphothallus titanum, reached sexual maturity this year and, in doing so, put on a stunning coming-of-age multimedia (sight and smell) show at the Plant Biology Conservatory. OCE-ATLAS Digital Media ran a live stream of Titania's three-day march to putrid fullness – a broadcast monitored by thousands of internet visitors. If you missed it, click here for a time-lapse (fragrance-free) version. H2/Modern Marvel's "Stink" episode gave Titania 75 seconds of coverage (starting here at 31:40 into the program). Read Titania's local news coverage here and see more pictures on the Friends of the University of Illinois Conservatory Facebook page here.

XiaWuCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Xia Wu on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Crosstalk of ProteinPhosphorylation and Lysine Acetylation on 14-3-3 Proteins and Their Applications in Brassinosteroid Signaling and Photosynthesis" under Steve Huber.Xia moves on to a postdoc with James Bruce at the University of Washington.

DevinQCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Devin Quarles on his M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Complementation of an AtCAM3 knockout line restores wild type root growth and provides localization data through expression of a chimeric GFP:AtCAM3 fusion protein in Arabidopsis thaliana" under Ray Zielinski.

NewYorkTimesALL THE CLIMATE THAT'S FIT TO CHANGE. Students in Andrew Leakey and Lisa Ainsworth's Plants and Global Change class were treated to a visit from veteran New York Times staff writer Justin Gillis, who has reported extensively on world food, agriculture and climate change. Mr. Gillis was in town to research a story on SoyFACE and stopped by IB440 to share his seasoned views on communicating science. Read Gillis's NYT piece about SoyFACE here, and about his visit to Plants & Global Change class here.

ZachKCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Zach Kron on his M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Vegetation structure and inferred patterns of functional group attrition in a shrub encroached old field and tallgrass prairie mosaic" under John Taft.

Mary Ann FeistCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Mary Ann Feist on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "A phylogenetic and monographic study of Oxypolis, Ptilimnium, and closely related genera (Apiaceae)" under Stephen Downie. Mary Ann moves on to a staff position at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Clark DandersonCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Clark Danderson on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "A Phylogenetic Study of the Arracacia Clade (Apiaceae)" under Stephen Downie.Clark moves on to a faculty position at Gordon State College.

MedicagoWHAT GAVE C4 GRASSES THE EDGE? Some environmental factor must have provided the first plants to adopt the C4 photosynthetic pathway a significant advantage over those relying on primordial C3 chemistry. Using a new method to measure carbon isotopes in pollen grains from ancient sediments, Feng Sheng Hu, Michael Urban and David Nelson found that C4 plants took root some 14 million years prior to the drop in atmospheric CO2 to which the rise of C4 grasses had previously been attributed. If not CO2, then what? The search continues. Read more here and here.

ElieSCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology and PMPB Graduate Student Elie Schwartz on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Regulation of the Chloroplast Light Harvesting Antenna by Plastoquinone Redox: Modulation of Chlorophyll Metabolism and Thylakoid Complex Organization" under Don Ort. Elie moves on to a postdoc at Michigan State.

ClareKUDOS TO PBAGS for organizing and hosting the department's 2010 Fall Welcome and Graduate Research Symposium on October 8 at IGB. There we welcomed new Plant Biology and PEEC graduate students Rishi Aryal, Robert VanBuren, Colleen Lindsay, Derek Hasselhorst, Stefan Johnsrud, Adriana Corrales Osorio and Katherine Heineman. Congratulations to poster competition winners (below): Post-Prelim: Eile Schwartz (winner) & Paul Nabity (runner-up) and Pre-Prelim: Bob Koester (winner) & Ryan Kelly (runner-up).


Kelly GillespieCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology and PMPB Graduate Student Kelly Gillespie on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Genomic and biochemical investigation of soybean antioxidant metabolism in response to growth at elevated carbon dioxide and elevated ozone" under Lisa Ainsworth. Kelly moves on to a staff scientist position at Monsanto.

Brandon JamesCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology and PMPB Graduate Student Brandon James on his M.S. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Marker development and genetic diversity in Saccharum and Miscanthus" under Ray Ming.

ClareCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Clare Casteel on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Impacts of climate change on herbivore induced plant signaling and defenses" under Evan DeLucia. Clare moves on to a postdoc at Cornell.

HOT, FLAT AND PERIODICALLY A LITTLE LESS CROWDED. Two new courses from dodoPlant Biology faculty are maxing out enrollments every Fall. Surangi Punyasena's (with Karen Sears, Animal Bio) Extinction: Dinosaurs to Dodos gives students the l_o_n_g view on species' survival, or not, on an ever-changing planet. Andrew Leakey's Global Warming, Biofuels, Food helps others podcastssort out fact and misconception about climate change, its biological sources and consequences, in addition to current and future strategies to deal with it. As an assisgnment, Andy's students create podcasts by interviewing local experts on topics covered in the course. Listen to a few of them here.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Joe Castro on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "The Effect of Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Ozone on Soybean Development, Leaf Anatomy and Productivity" under Steve Long.

LOCAL JOURNAL MAKES GOOD. Global NoduleChange Biology (GCB) publishes some of the most signficant work dealing with the biological effects of our changing Medicagoatmosphere and global warming. GCB has been based here at Illinois since being founded by its current editor, our very own Stephen Long. Thomson-Reuters ScienceWatch recently ranked GCB third, behind Nature and Science, among the most-cited journals in climate change research during 1999-2009. Stephen says, "Being 'second' only to Science and Nature seems a good place to be....[and demonstrates the University's] position as an international leader in climate change and its solutions."

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student John Drake on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Environmental and Developmental Regulation of Carbon Cycling in a Warm-Temperate Forest" under Evan Delucia.

WELCOME NEW GRADUATE STUDENTS. This year's entering class of Plant Biology graduate students was feted at the Inaugural Plant Biology Fall Welcome and Research Symposium held on September 30 at the Institute for Genomic Biology. Twenty-nine posters were displayed and discussed with awards for those judged Best in Show going to Kelly Gillespie, Ellie Schwartz, Ryan Kelly and Becky Arundale. This inaugural event was conceived and impeccably orchestrated by Grand Poobah Paul Nabity and PBAGS co-conspirators. Thanks to all for an enjoyable event well done!

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Kelly Anderson on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "An Experimental Assessment of Soil-based Habitat Partitioning in Understory Palms" under Jim Dalling.

2009 marked the centennial of the FIRST DOCTORATE IN PLANT BIOLOGY (then 'Botany') to be awarded at the University of Illinois. It went to ERNEST SHAW REYNOLDS in 1909 for his work on fungal pathogens, under the direction of Thomas J. Burrill, the department's first head. Dr. Reynolds's thesis was published in the Botanical Gazette. After serving on the faculties of U. Tennesee, North Dakota State U. and Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Reynolds passed the final decades of his fifty year professional career at the Marine Biology Lab of the University of Miami, investigating wood-rotting fungi in marine envirornments. Dr. Jack Fell, who worked with Dr. Reynolds at the Coral Gables lab in the 1950s, remembers Ernest as "a quiet, scholarly gentleman who loved working with fungi and helping the students. I was always impressed with his vast store of knowledge." Dr. Reynolds passed away in 1961.

S.AmericaMapWHAT CAN PAST CLIMATE CHANGES TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE? Plant Biologist Surangi Punyasena is taking a paleobotanical approach, learning how plant distributions responded to Earth’s climate shifts 10-20,000 years ago. But how can anyone possibly know which species grew where that long ago? Well, the plants may be long gone, but their pollen survives, collected annually by rivers and layered gently onto South American lake bottoms. The key to Surangi’s deciphering the pollen/climate code was documenting the temperature and precipitation conditions under which related species grow today. Surangi's meticulous calibration of that relationship revealed that not only individual species, but entire plant families show consistent environmental preferences. Thus, where they grew 10-20,000 years ago tells us what the climate was like, there and then. Read more here.

Justin McGrath PhotoCONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology grad student Justin McGrath for winning the 2009 American Society of Plant Biologists-Pioneer Hi-Bred International Graduate Student Prize. This very presitigious award "recognizes and encourages innovative graduate research and innovation in areas of plant biology that relate to important commodity crops."

Respiratory Transcriptomics PLANTS ARE GOBBLING UP THE EXCESSIVE CARBON DIOXIDE NOW ENTERING OUR ATMOSPHERE. After all, that’s what plants do best. But Plant Biologists Andrew Leakey and colleagues wondered how much of that gas plants are returning to the atmosphere by respiration, a process they perform 24/7, not just when the sun shines. Sure enough, when Andy et al. monitored the genes of soybean plants grown under current as well as year 2050 predicted levels of carbon dioxide at SoyFACE, they found that >90 genes that control carbohydrate catabolism were more active in the high, future gas regime than in today’s. Their report has drawn considerable attention, as it will enable scientists to more accurately predict the consequences of climate change for agriculture, and potentially breed crop plants accordingly.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Justin McGrath on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide and ozone concentrations alter leaf area index through changes in leaf production and expansion" under Lisa Ainsworth.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Frank Dohleman on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Seasonal Dynamics of Productivity and Photosynthesis of Three Biofuel Feedstocks: Field Comparisons of Miscanthus X Giganteus, Panicum Virgatum and Zea Mays" under Steve Long.

Blue PoppyBlue Heaven Book Cover THE HARDER A PLANT IS TO GROW, THE GREATER THE (unexpected!) REWARDS. Just ask intrepid Plant Biology Greenhouse Manager Deborah Black. Asiatic poppy afficianado Bill Terry's recent book, Blue Heaven: Encounters with the Blue Poppy, is devoted to the delicate, exquisite, mountain-adapted Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis x sheldonii, 'Lingholm') and includes a two-page tribute to Debbie's reknowned success at growing and showing this extraordinarily lovely and challenging plant at her ever-popular biennial Blue Poppy Show at our Plant Biology Greenhouse.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Maheshi Dassanayake on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Investigating extreme lifestyles through mangrove transcriptomics" under John Cheeseman.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Cecile Sano on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Genetics of the Arabidopsis Inflorescence Replacement Program" under Tom Jacobs.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Lisa Raetz on completion of her Master's Degree (non-thesis) under Evan DeLucia.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Jenny Cordes on completion of her M.S. degree and thesis entitled "A Systematic Study of Poison Hemlock (Conium, Apiaceae)" under Stephen Downie.

NewGrads2008WELCOME to 2008's entering class of Plant Biology graduate students, gathered here at our 2008 Fall Welcome Reception at the Bread Company: Back row: Kathy Richter, Matt Siebert, James Walsh, Danielle Ruffatto, Matt Nantie; Front row: Becky Arundale and Anna Locke (AWOL: Miranda Segura).

A SEASON OF CHANGES. This Fall, our Department welcomes two new faculty members, both with interests in changing forests: Michael Dietze constructs and uses ecological models to forecast effects of disturbance and climate change on forest dynamics; Surangi Punyasena uses fossil pollen records to reveal ancient climate patterns in neotropical forests. We also welcome a NEW DEPARTMENT HEAD, our own Feng Sheng Hu, while we bid a grateful farewell to outgoing head Evan DeLucia, as he assumes the G. William Arends Chair as Director of the School of Integrative Biology.

A pair of familiar Plant Biology voices were featured on a Voice of America report this Summer entitled "RESEARCHERS IN ILLINOIS STUDY IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENT ON CROP YIELDS".  In a piece highlighting research at SoyFACE, Plant Biology professor Don Ort and graduate student Amy Beztelberger shared their expertise on the impact of elevated carbon dioxide on crop growth (“makes the plants more delicious to herbivorous insects” - Amy) and global grain reserves (“at dangerously low levels” - Don).  Click on Amy to watch the video (courtesy of VoA) or here to read the online story at VOA or Water Conserve.

MOSQUITO BITES CAN GIVE YOU MORE THAN JUST AN ANNOYING ITCH. In some parts of the world, they can give you West Nile Virus or the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. DDT is still the insecticide of choice in areas of Africa where malaria is endemic and insecticide-resistant mosquito populations are therefore a serious concern.  Plant Biology affiliate and cytochrome P450 monooxygenase guru Mary Schuler and colleagues Ting-Lan Chiu, Zhimou Wen and Sanjeewa Rupasinghe used molecular modeling to support the hypothesis that elevated expression of the P450 enzyme CYP6Z1 is the basis of DDT detoxification and resistance in some African mosquito populations.  Click on the molecular model for the local story and a nifty 3D animation, here for the PNAS article and here for the report in Science Daily.

Cup PlantYOU WON'T FIND THESE AT YOUR LOCAL GARDEN CENTER. Plant Biology Afilliate Steven Hill held his annual plant sale over the July 4th weekend. As always, a dazzling array of tropicals, natives and exotics was on offer, including Voodoo Lilies (Sauromatum and Amorphothallus), vanilla orchids, thorny succulents, plus all manner of native and Caribbean mallows (family Malvaceae), Steve's speciality. Of course, Steven was ready with as much of a specimen's botanical background as even the most inquisitive customer could desire. Click on the Cup Plant (right) for some photos.

We mourn the passing of one of our Department’s MOST DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI, Arthur W. Galston, at the age of 88, following a long career of scientific achievement and profound humanitarian contributions.  Dr. Galston entered our then Botany Department in 1940 to study under the charismatic Harry Fuller who ignited his student’s lifelong interest in plant hormones and photobiology.  Completing his doctorate in just 3 years, Galston served in the Pacific in World War II and returned to enjoy nine highly productive years at Cal Tech where he generated the first data to suggest the now well-established flavin components of plant photoreceptors, phototropin and cryptochrome.  Finally settling at Yale, he continued to be an influential plant researcher as well as a preiminent teacher and author in the field of bioethics.  Arthur Galston is perhaps most fondly remembered and honored for his ultimately successful campaign to end America’s use of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam.  The direct result of his activism was President Nixon's order to cease this practice long before the end of the war.  Dr. Galston was awarded an Alumni Achievement Award by the College of LAS in 2004.  Read his obituaries in the New York Times and The Economist, and a brief autobiography here.

An international collaboration led by Plant Biologist Ray Ming has yielded a 90% draft sequence of the first transgenic crop genome, virus-resistant papaya. This important work was featured on the cover of the journal NATURE. Papaya joins Arabidopsis, poplar, grape and rice as the only higher plant species with sequenced genomes. Ming et al.'s work will now propel comparative genomic studies of evolutionary relationships, functional organization, and differential gene content, among others. Plant Biologist Mary Schuler, grad students Andrea Gschwend and Yingjun Li, technician Jan Murray, and postdocs Jianping Wang, Cuixia Chen and Jong-Kuk Na co-authored the paper. See the local story here.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Charles Chen on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled ""Heterogeneity of leaf-level photosynthesis as seen through the lens of ozone, soybean, and chlorophyll fluorescence imaging" under Stephen Long.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology grad student Ryan Kelly for winning a 2008-2009 NSF Graduate Teaching Fellowship in K-12 Education (GK-12). Under such auspices, Ryan will be taking his holocene climate modeling skills to the masses, these being Illinois secondary school classes and their teachers.

"What we discovered was startling," says Plant Biology head Evan DeLucia, about the alarmingly compromised defenses against insect predation of plants grown under elevated carbon dioxide at SoyFACE. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and co-authored by postdoc Jorge Zavala, grad student Clare Casteel, Evan and May Berenbaum, has received worldwide attention since being picked up by United Press International. Here's a video version of the story.

Plant Biologist Lisa Ainsworth says "Things are going to get worse". (ouch!)  No, not everything, but Lisa's meta-analysis of rising carbon dioxide and ozone impacts on rice farming suggests tropical rice yields may take a double-digit hit if global warming and ozone generation are not curtailed. Lisa's warning of a threat to such a major world food source was highlighted in a feature appearing in the March 24 issue of New Scientist and later picked up by Reuters.

We need to think much more broadly” says Plant Biologist Stephen Long, regarding the use of corn and corn-growing land as a source of feedstock for biofuels.  Steve’s views on alternative plants for biofuels, such as Miscanthus, were featured in a news story entitled “Energy: Not your father's biofuels” appearing in the Feburary 21 issue of the international science newsweekly, Nature.

The Spring 2008 Plant Biology Department Colloquium series concluded on April 25 with a stimulating talk by Feng Sheng Hu entitled "Investigating boreal-forest response to past climatic change: from DNA input to solar output". Many thanks to Justin McGrath and his PBAGS co-conspirators for organizing this semester's Colloquium series!

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Chance Riggins on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Molecular Phylogenetic and Biogeographic study of the genus Artemisia (Asteraceae), with an emphasis on section Absinthium" under Dave Seigler.

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Graduate Student Vernie Sagun on his Ph.D. and successful defense of his thesis entitled "Systematics of Malesian Acalypha (Euphorbiaceae)" under INHS affiliate Geoff Levin.

Why is Plant Biology Graduate Student Sharon Gray smiling? Perhaps because she was awarded a Graduate Research Environmental Fellowship (GREF) from the Global Change Education Program of the U.S. Department of Energy. Sharon joins colleague Kelly Gillespie as Plant Biology grad students receiving this prestigious award. Congrats Sharon!

CONGRATULATIONS to Plant Biology Grad Student, Meta-Analyst Extraodinaire, and PBAGS Revolutionary Victoria Wittig on her Ph.D. and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Impacts of elevated carbon dioxide and tropospheric ozone on the growth and productivity of trees" under Stephen Long.

An IMPORTANT NEW JOURNAL debuts this year, Tropical Plant Biology, edited by Plant Biology faculty member Ray Ming and co-editor-in-chief Paul Moore (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center). The lead article in the journal's first issue comes from Ray's lab, presenting an analysis of floral MADS box genes in (what else?) papaya.

We are saddened to report the passing of our former colleague, Fakhri Bazzaz, on February 6 at the age of 74. Fakhri earned his Ph.D. in Plant Biology at UIUC in 1963 and went on to join the faculty of Plant Biology, later becoming department head and acting director of the School of Life Sciences.  He later moved to Harvard as Mallincrodt Professor of Biology.  An ecologist, Dr. Bazzaz was broadly interested in how plants adapt to natural and anthropogenic disturbances.  He was among the first ecologists to recognize not only the spectre but also the complexities of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and the threat it represents to the human population and the ecosystems upon which we depend.  He was a renowned and beloved teacher and trained a generation of young scientists now at the leading edge of physiological, population and community ecology.  The author of 18 invited chapters, 6 books and almost 300 publications, Dr. Bazzaz was awarded the UIUC College of LAS Alumni Achievement Award in 2003.

Plant Biology grad student (and "U. of I. Biomass Energy Coordinator") Frank Dohleman and his work with Stephen Long on developing Miscanthus x gigantea as a (liquid) biofuel crop made the 10 o'clock news on Chicago's ABC affiliate on Jan 22, 2008. Missed it? No problem! Click on Frank.

CLIMATE CHANGE is everywhere, in more ways than one. On January 30, Plant Biologist Andrew Leakey joined other local climate change experts in a Panel Discussion sponsored by the UIUC Center for Global Studies, as part of Focus the Nation: Climate Change, a national teach-in coordinated locally the UIUC Environmental Council.

SoyFACE hit the INTERNATIONAL AIRWAVES on Nov 8, 2007, in the form of a 30 minute feature on BBC World Service. You can hear Plant Biology's Don Ort, Stephen Long, Lisa Ainsworth talk to the BBC's Sue Broom about SoyFACE, ozone, soya beans (that's British for soybean) and projected future trends by downloading the podcast here.

Many thanks to Ray and Ann Zielinski for hosting, and PBAGS for organizing, the 2007 Plant Biology Department PLANT BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT HOLIDAY POTLUCK this year. A festive time was had by all, including furry co-host Lucky,who was treated to some nice looking leftovers on the dessert table, assuming Frank et al. didn't polish them off before they (finally) left. Happy Holidays to All!

Another BRUSH WITH CELEBRITY for Plant Biology students and faculty. On Nov. 15, the Big Ten Network taped a segment for their Friday Night Tailgate program that included interviews with Plant Biology grad studentsAshley Spence and Charles Chen in Stephen Long's Lab and at the Conservatory. Unfortunately, Ashley and Charles will have to wait another day for their shot at stardom, as BTN chose to run alternative footage, as seen here (click on "Week 12").

Welcome new 2007 Plant Biology graduate students (l. to r.): Lisa Raetz, Cody Markelz, Katherine Chi, Amy Betzelberger and Ashley Spence. AWOL for the photo shoot: George Hickman, Brandon James, Paul Nelson and Paul Schmitz

We are pleased to announce the debut of this, the NEW PLANT BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT WEBSITE. Many thanks to Webmaestro Lee Bynum for his patience and coding wizardry, and Phil Pochrzast (ATLAS) for his invaluable design input, in producing this long-awaited update to Plant Biology's web presence.