Thomas Sharkey joins the PRL

  • Jul 3, 2017
  • Sharkey lab, future scientists
  • Future Scientists
  • By Igor Houwat

Thomas D. Sharkey, Michigan State University Distinguished Professor and former chair of the MSU Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) in the College of Natural Science, has become a faculty member of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL).

“It is an honor to join the PRL,” said Sharkey, who will hold a joint appointment in BMB. “The opportunities to pursue my individual research projects and to participate in multi-investigator projects makes the PRL an ideal environment for my work.”

The Sharkey lab studies the biochemistry and biophysics that determine the exchange of gases between the biosphere and the atmosphere. Current research concentrates on three projects: carbon metabolism of photosynthesis – from carbon dioxide uptake to carbon export from the Calvin-Benson Cycle; isoprene emission from plants; and abiotic stress tolerance.

An MSU alumnus, Sharkey was recruited back to MSU as BMB chair, a position he held from 2008 through April 2017.

“Tom returned to the PRL 30 years after he studied gas exchange in plants under the guidance of Klaus Raschke,” said Christoph Benning, PRL director. “For some time, Tom has been a key PRL external contributor to the Department of Energy–Basic Energy Sciences grant that supports work on photosynthesis conducted at the PRL. Inviting him to join the PRL faculty after stepping down as the BMB chair felt like a natural step. We welcome him back and wish him many more successful years in photosynthesis research.”

Sharkey received his B.S. from Lyman Briggs College and his Ph.D. in botany and plant pathology via the PRL from Michigan State University. He was recently named a Highly Cited Researcher by the Institute of Scientific Information and is a fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Sharkey is also a founding member of the newly established Plant Resilience Institute at MSU.