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2011 Plant Science Program HHMI-GBMF Investigators

Summary

Fifteen scientists working in the plant sciences gain flexible support from HHMI and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to move their research in creative new directions.

Philip Benfey, Ph.D.
Duke University
Durham, NC
Benfey is studying how plants control the form and function of their root systems.

Dominique Bergmann, Ph.D.
Stanford University
Palo Alto, CA
By studying the formation of the structures plants use to control the exchange of water and carbon dioxide, Bergmann is making fundamental discoveries about how cells acquire their fates and establish the patterns needed to build a complete organism.

Simon Chan, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
By studying basic chromosome biology, Chan has made discoveries that have practical implications for making crop plants easier to breed.

Xuemei Chen, Ph.D.
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA
Chen’s lab has two overlapping goals: deciphering the molecular programs that control flower formation, and determining how small RNAs control gene activity in plants.

Jeff Dangl, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Plants are confronted by a daunting range of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Dangl is working to understand how plants recognize beneficial versus pathogenic microbes.

Xinnian Dong, Ph.D.
Duke University
Durham, NC
Dong is investigating how plant defense genes promote resistance to pathogens.

Jorge Dubcovsky, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
Dubcovsky’s investigations of wheat genetics have enabled him to boost the plant’s nutritional content, increase yield, and optimize the growing cycle for particular climates.

Joseph Ecker, Ph.D. 
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, CA
Ecker is trying to understand how plants perceive and respond to gases required for stress protection, seed germination and fruit ripening.

Mark Estelle, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA
Estelle is investigating how hormones help plants respond to alter their growth in response to changes in including light, temperature, water, and nutrient availability.

Sheng Yang He, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
He works to identify the techniques that bacteria use to attack plants and make them more susceptible to disease, which has implications for both crops and human health.

Robert Martienssen, Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
The gene silencing methods studied in Martienssen’s lab keep mobile genetic elements under control and are critical to normal plant reproduction and development.

Elliot Meyerowitz, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
One of the questions that interests Meyerowitz is how plant cells recognize and respond to chemical and mechanical signals.

Krishna Niyogi, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA
Niyogi has spent two decades delving into photosynthesis and has made fundamental discoveries that help scientists understand the strategies plants use to adapt to their environment.

Craig Pikaard, Ph.D.
Indiana University at Bloomington
Bloomington, IN
One of the major research interests in Pikaard’s lab is understanding how plant genes are silenced.

Keiko Torii, Ph.D.
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
Torii’s lab studies how plant cells coordinate proliferation and differentiation during organ morphogenesis to generate beautiful, orderly patterns.