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Dec. 1, 2011 Volume 33, No. 14

Danforth Center president to give sixth annual Millikan Memorial Lecture

J. Carrington

PLANT SCIENCE EXPERT James Carrington, president, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will speak at MU Dec. 7. Photo courtesy of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center


James Carrington will present ‘Small RNA Mechanisms in Plants’

The MU Division of Plant Sciences will welcome James Carrington, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, for its sixth annual Millikan Memorial Lecture, “Small RNA Mechanisms in Plants,” at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center.

The lecture is hosted by Students for the Advancement of Plant Pathology, a graduate student group funded by an endowment from Daniel Millikan, a former MU plant sciences professor and charter member of the Department of Plant Pathology. Registration is not required.

“This lecture will be a great event for us,” said Mike Collins, MU professor and director of plant sciences. “Because of our physical proximity to the Danforth Center [in St. Louis], we see it as a way to strengthen connections between our faculty and Danforth.”

Collins said that while the Danforth Center does not offer academic programs, it provides research opportunities for MU faculty and students in a number of areas across campus, including plant sciences, biological sciences, biochemistry and the Bond Life Sciences Center.

Thomson Reuters ranks MU eighth in the U.S. and 15th worldwide in terms of impact on plant and animal sciences research from 1999 to 2009. The ranking is based on citations per published journal article. The analysis grouped MU with such peers as the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University and the University of Cambridge. Collins said this recognition shows the importance of his colleagues’ work.

“Mizzou and Danforth Center plant scientists are very well connected with their colleagues around the United States and around the world,” Collins said. “That’s a good indicator of the positive effect our plant science research is having.”

Collins hopes faculty and staff from other departments will attend Carrington’s lecture to learn more about current research in plant sciences. He said that professors might be able to apply the knowledge they gain from the presentation to their own work.

“We think it’s always useful for faculty in any other program to be exposed to some of the cutting-edge research and discovery that’s happening in plant sciences,” Collins said. “You never know what sort of connection you’ll be able to make from learning about other disciplines.”

Carrington became president of the Danforth Center in May. He previously was a professor and director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University. He has studied the diversity and functions of endogenous small RNA pathways that control gene silencing in plants and other organisms. He also identified and characterized key principles of virus-host interactions, including the role of RNA silencing in antiviral defense. His current research focuses on the function and diversification of RNA silencing pathways that affect development and disease in model plants and pathogens.

At the Danforth Center, Carrington leads 15 professors and about 150 scientists in a mission to improve the human condition through plant science.

— Ryan Schmitz