HomeOur ScientistsSusan R. Wessler

Our Scientists

Susan R. Wessler, PhD
HHMI Professor / 2006–2010

Scientific Discipline

Genetics, Plant Biology

Host Institution

University of Georgia

Current Position

Susan R. Wessler is Distinguished Professor of Genetics and University of California President's Chair in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside.

Current Research

The Dynamic Genome Courses: Introducing Authentic Research to First-Year Undergraduates

Sue Wessler's research concerns the interaction between transposable elements and plant genes. Her laboratory was the first to demonstrate that elements could function as introns, that miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) predominate in normal genes, and that plant retrotransposons are the major cause of spontaneous insertion mutations.

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Biography

A native of New York City, Wessler received her bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Stony Brook in 1974 and her PhD in Biochemistry from Cornell University in 1980. As a postdoctoral fellow of the American Cancer Society at the Carnegie…

A native of New York City, Wessler received her bachelor's degree in biology from SUNY Stony Brook in 1974 and her PhD in Biochemistry from Cornell University in 1980. As a postdoctoral fellow of the American Cancer Society at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Baltimore (1980-82), she was involved in the molecular isolation of the Ac and Ds transposable elements that were first discovered by Barbara McClintock almost 40 years earlier in maize. 

She began her career at the University of Georgia in 1983 as an assistant professor of botany, rising through the ranks to full professor of botany and genetics in 1992. In 1994 she was awarded the title of Distinguished Research Professor, in 2004 she named a Regents Professor, and in 2008 she was named the first University of Georgia Foundation Chair in the Biological Sciences.  She moved her program to the University of California Riverside in August 2010 where she is Distinguished Professor of Genetics and the University of California President’s Chair in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences.

She is co-author of The Mutants of Maize (Cold Spring Harbor Press) and of more than 120 research articles. She is one of the principle authors of Introduction to Genetic Analysis, a leading textbook used in introductory genetics courses in colleges and universities throughout the world. In addition, she is an associate editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is on the editorial board of Current Opinions in Plant Biology and on the board of reviewing editors of the journal Science.

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Education

  • BS, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • PhD, Cornell University

Awards

  • Distinguished Scientist Award, Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA)
  • Stephen Hales Prize, American Society of Plant Biologists
  • FASEB Excellence in Science Award

Memberships

  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • American Philosophical Society
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