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David Kramer wins innovation prize from ISPR

The PRL's David M. Kramer, Hannah Distinguished Professor in photosynthesis and bioenergetics, is the 2016 recipient of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research (ISPR) Innovation Award.

The ISPR, founded in 1995, aims to promote the development of photosynthesis research as a basic and applied science. The ISPR Innovation Award, sponsored by LI-COR Biosciences, recognizes, “outstanding achievement in the transfer of photosynthesis research to the benefit of society at large, enhancing the visibility of the discipline in the process.”

This is second major award for Kramer in 2016, the other being the prestigious Charles F. Kettering award for excellence in Photosynthesis Research.

“It is great to get the recognition for our work, but I really think the credit goes to all the great people I’ve been privileged to work with and the terrific support from MSU and our funders,” said Kramer, also a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Kramer’s research seeks to understand how plants convert light energy into forms usable for life, how these processes function at both molecular and physiological levels, and how they are regulated and controlled.

Some of the most innovative work to come from the Kramer lab is the development of tools to directly observe the processes of photosynthesis as they occur in living plants. These techniques are currently being used in many labs around the world to understand how plants respond to rapidly changing environmental conditions, and ultimately to improve the productivity of crops.

The work led to formation of the Center for Advanced Algal and Plant Phenotyping, which aims to both develop such new scientific tools and to bring them to the broader community of scientists, researchers extension agents, and farmers.

“Kramer and his team have developed a collection of ingenious devices and accompanying data analysis software that enable the study of plants and algae under conditions more closely simulating the natural environment”, said Christoph Benning, MSU Foundation Professor and Director of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory. “Making these tools broadly available is enabling the larger scientific community to answer basic and applied questions about photosynthesis in novel ways.”

Kramer received his B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Cell Biology from the University of Dayton and his Ph.D in Biophysics from the University of Illinois. After a post-doc in Paris, France, and professorship at Washington State University, he accepted the John A. Hannah professorship at MSU in 2010. Kramer’s research is supported by a number of agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Aid for International Development, National Science Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and the John A. Hannah Foundation.

Kramer recently accepted the award at the ISPR’s 17th International Congress on Photosynthesis Research in Maastricht, The Netherlands.      

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