Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering scheduled for March 27 and 28

Elliot M. Meyerowitz, George W. Beadle Professor of Biology and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the California Institute of Technology, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on March 27 and 28 at the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience, titled "How Plant Cells Form Patterns: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Computers," at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building. Meyerowitz also will present a more specialized lecture, titled "Modeling the Meristem: Dynamics and Domains of Plant Stem Cells," at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.

Meyerowitz studies the genetics of flowering plants, especially the small plant Arabidopsis thaliana, used as a model species in plant genetics research laboratories worldwide. Meyerowitz's laboratory was the first to popularize the use of this model system for molecular genetics, as well as the first laboratory to clone or sequence an Arabidopsis gene. In addition, the Meyerowitz laboratory identified and cloned numerous flower-development genes, leading to the "ABC Model" of floral organ specification -- a widely used paradigm of developmental genetics in flowers. He and his colleagues also were the first researchers to clone plant hormone receptors, explaining how plants respond to the stress hormone ethylene. Their current work combines studies of computational and mathematical modeling with gene expression and cell-division patterns in the shoot apical meristem -- a group of cells that generate all of the aerial parts of the plant.

Among Meyerowitz's honors are the 1996 Genetics Society of America Medal; the 1997 International Prize for Biology, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the 1999 Lounsbery Award of the National Academy of Sciences; the 2005 R.G. Harrison Prize of the International Society of Developmental Biologists; and the 2006 Balzan Prize. He received an honorary doctorate from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France in 2007. Meyerowitz is past president of the Genetics Society of America, the International Society for Plant Molecular Biology, and the Society for Developmental Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a foreign associate of the Académie des Sciences of France, a foreign member of the Royal Society, and was elected an associate member of the European Molecular Biology Organization.

Meyerowitz has been a member of the California Institute of Technology faculty since 1980 and, in 2002, he became the George Beadle Professor of Biology. In 2011 and 2012 he served as the inaugural director of the new Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University. He received doctoral degrees from Yale University and Stanford University in 1977 and 1979, respectively, and a master of philosophy degree from Yale University in 1975.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences, and physics. For more information about the lectures, contact Tamara Housel at 814-865-3072.

Last Updated March 19, 2013