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MSU’s Last is President-Elect of National Plant Biologists Group

Robert Last

Robert Last, an MSU Barnett Rosenberg Professor, has been elected president-elect of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

Last, a professor in the MSU Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) and Plant Biology in the College of Natural Science, will begin his service to ASPB in October.

“ASPB is the world’s oldest and largest international professional organization of plant scientists,” said Danny Schnell, chair of the Department of Plant Biology. “Rob’s election by the membership is a tremendous honor and reflects his stature in the profession and his many contributions to research and education.”

“The Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Plant Biology congratulate Rob on his election and thank him for the significant recognition it brings to the departments, the plant science community and to MSU,” added Bill Henry, interim BMB chair.

Last is a pioneer in using advanced, high-throughput genetic screening and analysis techniques to unlock the secrets of plant biochemistry. Last studies the genes that affect the structure and function of chloroplasts, specialized compartments in plant cells that make sugars and oxygen during photosynthesis. He also uses small cells on the tips of hairs located on the tomato plants’ leaves that help protect them from pests to discover new biochemical pathways.

“We are experiencing a perfect storm in the plant sciences in the United States and across the globe,” Last said. “The scientific opportunities for rapid data generation and analysis are unprecedented. Our student and postdoctoral trainees are exploring an increasingly wide range of careers, which will lead to increased impact of well-trained scientists in public policy, and education along with research and development.

“However, the long successful model of government funding of basic research is under threat due to political pressures. The ASPB plays important roles in these areas and supports publication of high quality research through its three journals. I am looking forward to working with members and staff to help ASPB increase its global impact in these and other areas.”

ASPB is a scientific organization that was created to encourage and promote the growth and development of plant biology as a pure and applied science of the life processes of plants, to publish the results of meritorious research in plant biology, and to promote the general welfare and good fellowship of plant biologists and related scientists.

  • via the College of Natural Science website

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