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Jingcheng Huang receives 2021 Kende Award

Jingcheng Huang is the 2021 recipient of the Kende Award, which acknowledges the best doctoral dissertation in plant sciences at Michigan State University (MSU) over the last two years.

Jingcheng Huang and Christoph Benning shake hands as Christoph passes Jingcheng a clock award
Jingcheng Huang and Christoph Benning shake hands as Christoph passes Jingcheng a clock award.
By Kara Headley, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory 2021

Jingcheng is currently working in David Kramer’s lab at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) as a postdoctoral researcher. In 2019, he received his Ph.D. from MSU, where he was co-advised by both Dave Kramer and Danny Ducat, two professors at the PRL. He is being recognized for his Ph.D. thesis work, “Development of structurally defined platforms for long-range biological electron transfer.”

In addition to receiving a monetary award, Jingcheng was given the opportunity to present a research seminar on his thesis project on December 6, 2021.

“The most encouraging moments for me at the PRL were these memorable seminars where I listened to awarding talks from peers and friends,” Jingcheng said. “This is one of the many great traditions I found within PRL that inspires the production of important scientific discoveries. I really respect the pioneers and current members who established and developed the laboratory into an outstanding place for research and training scientists.”

Jingcheng Huang and Dave Kramer
Jingcheng Huang with his one of his graduate advisors, Dave Kramer.
By Kara Headley, MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory 2021

During his time as a graduate student, Jingcheng led a project with the goal of understanding how electrons can be moved over long distances through networks of biological electron carriers. The project involved both the Kramer lab and the Ducat lab and combined synthetic biology, spectroscopy, microscopy and biophysical theory.

“Throughout our interactions, Jingcheng has always been an exemplar of a deeply knowledgeable scientist, a contributing creative and an outstanding mentor/colleague,” said Danny Ducat. “Members of both the Ducat and Kramer teams have come to rely heavily on Jingcheng’s expertise and insight, as well as his generous capacity to give of his time and to contribute to his colleagues at multiple levels.”

Jingcheng is continuing his research in the Kramer lab as a postdoctoral researcher. His current project focuses on how photosynthetic electron flow responds to the electric fields across thylakoid membranes. He developed new methods for detecting light emitted from thylakoids when they are pulsed with electric fields.

Jingcheng operates a scientific instrument
Jingcheng operates an instrument he built in the Kramer Lab that measures electroluminescence, light flashes emitted by chloroplasts when they are exposed to strong electric fields.
By Dave Kramer, 2021

“It is wonderful that Dr. Huang is being recognized by the Kende Award,” said Dave Kramer. “He is truly an innovative and deep thinker who attacks scientific problems with unrelenting tenacity. His work has opened up a new field of study on how biological systems can move electrons without killing themselves. I’m not the only one to think this! Reviewers of most recent paper described the work as ‘impressive,’ ‘very important,’ ‘stunning’ and ‘thoughtful.’”

“Dr. Huang exemplifies the spirit of collaborative and synergistic work that we strive to achieve at the PRL and he sets a great example for others,” said Christoph Benning, director of the PRL.

Jingcheng received his B.S. in 2012 from the Biological Science at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.

To read more on Jingcheng's Ph.D. thesis, read this article from the PRL: “Harnessing the power of biology: Scientists 'go the distance' in electron transfer study.

By Kara Headley; Banner image by Kara Headley