Sept. 5, 2006

Plant biologists Maureen Hanson and Charles Stewart reap major awards for their research

A Cornell professor and a graduate student each walked away with major awards at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), held Aug. 5 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Maureen Hanson, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Molecular Biology in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, received the Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology.

The award, which recognizes a pioneering researcher in plant biology, was given for Hanson's work on RNA metabolism in chloroplasts and mitochondria and chloroplast dynamics and morphology. Overall, in simple terms, Hanson seeks to understand how plant genes and organelles function to allow conversion of energy from the sun in order to grow and develop.

Charles Stewart Jr., a graduate student in the Department of Plant Biology, was awarded the ASPB-Pioneer-Hi-Bred International Graduate Student Prize. The prize, given for the first time this year, intends to invest in future scientists and support innovative research in an area of plant biology related to major crops. Stewart was recognized for his work to identify a master regulatory gene that controls pungency in pepper fruits.

The ASPB is the major scientific society in plant biology and its annual meeting draws about 1,500 of the nation's plant biologists and students.