2019 Anton Lang Memorial Award Winners Announced
Luciana Renna and Ben Mansfeld were awarded the 2019 Anton Lang Memorial Award during a ceremony which took place on Monday, April 23, 2019 at the Biochemistry building.
The Anton Lang Memorial Fund was established in honor of the founding director of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL), who passed away in 1996. Proceeds from the fund go towards annually supporting the Anton Lang Memorial Lecture and recognizing a graduate student and a postdoctoral research associate who exemplify the research excellence, ideas, dedication, and vision of Anton Lang.
This year’s lecture was given by Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky from the University of California-Davis. Dr. Dubcovsky’s talk focused on genetic tools to dissect wheat spike development.
Luciana, from the lab of Federica Brandizzi, won the post-doc award. For a long time, she has been fascinated with the endomembrane system. She recently identified a new molecular player localized on the Trans Golgi Network (TGN) that ties together TGN movement, biogenesis, and function. This discovery was recently published on Nature communications.
Luciana says, “I feel honored to be receiving this award. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this resourceful community that the PRL is!”
Ben, who works in the lab of Rebecca Grumet, won the graduate student award. His PhD work focuses on a developmentally acquired disease resistance in cucumber to the pathogen Phytophthora capsici, which causes cucumber fruit rot. Ben utilized a diverse array of tools to study this trait, including transcriptomic, metabolomic and genomic analyses. Ben has also developed an R package for performing bulk segregant analyses using sequencing data.
Ben says, “I am truly honored to receive this award! I have to thank my advisor Dr. Rebecca Grumet, who has been an amazing mentor over the last few years. My advisory committee has also been extremely influential and helped shape me in to the scientist I am today. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family for the support.”
Christoph Benning, PRL Director, says, “The Anton Lecture presented by Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, who has made tremendous contributions in the field of wheat breeding and genetics, set the perfect background for the awards ceremony. Luciana Renna and Ben Mansfeld are promising young scientists in the plant sciences at MSU and fully represent the spirit of the Anton Lang Award. I would like to congratulate both on behalf of the entire PRL and Molecular Plant Science community.”
The awardees received an engraved rosewood piano finish clock, a cash reward, and their names have been added to a permanent award plaque located in the Plant Biology Laboratories building.
By explaining a photosynthetic peculiarity in switchgrass, MSU researchers from the Walker lab may have unlocked even more of the plant’s potential.
Researchers from the Vermaas lab created a more efficient tool to solve the problem of ring piercings in molecular simulations. This work is published in Biomolecules.
Complicated sets of biological data can be challenging to extrapolate meaningful information from. Wanting to find a better way to look at this data led Berkley Walker, assistant professor at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, to team up with statistician and Assistant Professor Chih-Li Sung from the Department of Statistics and Probability.