Kenny Wang wins 2018 Kende Award
Kun (Kenny) Wang is the recipient of the 2018 Kende Award, which recognizes the best doctoral dissertation in the plant sciences at Michigan State University (MSU) over the last two years.
In addition to winning a monetary award, Kenny presented a research seminar on January 14, 2019. The award recognized his PhD thesis work on the functions and mechanisms of chloroplast membrane remodeling. During his time at MSU, Kenny found that a chloroplast enzyme, called SENSITIVE TO FREEZING 2 (SFR2), mediated a membrane remodeling mechanism that protects tomato from dehydration and salt stress.
He also characterized a group of chloroplast membrane degrading enzymes, designated PLASTID LIPASE (PLIP1, 2, and 3), showing that they participate in various biological processes. Those processes include oil production, which is of interest for biofuels research, and jasmonic acid production, which protects plants from herbivore and pest attacks.
Kenny says, “During my PhD, I benefited a lot from PRL’s collaborative environment with leading experts in various areas,” Kenny says. “My vision and scientific taste were nurtured in this environment, preparing me for the next stage of my career.”
“Kenny excelled during his work towards his PhD, because of his willingness and tenacity to learn new technologies and to become one of the top experts in a field new to him. He is well prepared for the next step in his career and I think he has a great future in science ahead of him,” says Christoph Benning, Kenny’s PhD mentor and director of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory.
Kenny obtained a B.S. in Biological Sciences at Shandong University, China and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from MSU. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.
“I am working on human lysosomal proteins in brain cells relevant to neurodegeneration diseases,” Kenny adds. “I have been applying protein biochemistry and lipid omics skills acquired during my PhD training. This is an instance where plant research crosses over to the health sciences.”
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