The Center for Plant Science Innovation (PSI) is an interdisciplinary research and training program in the basic plant sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Outstanding research facilities and an interdisciplinary graduate program complement an excellent group of faculty with research strengths in several areas of plant biology research.

Faculty research emphases include
plant-microbe interactions, plant signaling and organellar biology, abiotic and biotic stress responses, and genomics/proteomics. The George W. Beadle Center for Genetics Research affords state of the art research facilities and an array of core facilities, including proteomics, genomics, plant transformation, microscopy, bioinfomatics and flow cytometry, to provide student and postdoctoral trainees with a phenomenal environment in which to conduct research.

The plant research community at UNL allows for a host of productive collaborations and outstanding postdoctoral opportunities. These include plant breeding programs that incorporate modern technologies for crop improvement, an excellent ecology and evolution group that integrates an understanding of plant function to their natural environment, and an array of faculty investigating the food safety, environmental impact, and economic implications of agricultural biotechnology.

Recent News

Bin Yu Lab reports more microRNA clues.

 Dr. Bin Yu(April 2014) Tiny molecules called microRNAs are powerful agents in regulating gene expression, but the mechanisms that regulate them aren’t well understood. UNL plant scientist Bin Yu and his team have uncovered important clues about how plant cells control microRNA function, a step toward better understanding crop development and stress response.

Read more at Today@UNL.

Weeks receives the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity award.

Dr. Don Weeks(April 2014) Donald Weeks has received the Outstanding Research and Creativity Activity award from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The ORCA recognizes faculty for outstanding research or creative activity of national or international significance.

Read more at Today@UNL.

Sunday with a Scientist

Sunday with a Scientist(December 2013) The University of Nebraska State Museum's next Sunday with a Scientist program for children and families will explore plant gene silencing. Bin Yu, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, will introduce children and families to gene silencing triggered by RNAs and related technologies used to improve crop traits and fight against human disease. The program will take place on Sunday, December 15 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Morrill Hall.

Weeks named Fellow to National Academy of Inventors

Dr. Donald Weeks (December 2013) Donald Weeks has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, an honor given to esteemed innovators and inventors. Weeks, the Maxcy Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was recognized for distinguished contributions in plant and algal biotechnology and efforts to translate research discoveries into solutions that benefit society.

Read more at Today@UNL.

Holding earns research awards
Dr. David Holding

(November 2013) Assistant professor David Holding received a Junior Faculty for Excellence in Research Award. The awards are provided through the Branham Endowment Fund. Given annually by the Agricultural Research Division, the award is for tenure-track assistant professors with an ARD appointment with five or less years of professional service at UNL. The award is based upon publication record, evidence of external funding activity and peer recognition.

Holding is an assistant professor with the Center for Plant Science Innovation and Agronomy and Horticulture. He has published research papers in journals including Nature Communications, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Plant Cell and Plant Physiology and recently received extramural funding from USDA-NIFA and ConAgra. His research program aims to identify and functionally characterize genes involved in kernel maturation in corn and sorghum. He is particularly interested in understanding and exploiting the complex relationship between kernel texture and protein quality.

Mackenzie named 2013 ASPB Fellow

Dr. Sally Mackenzie(April 2013) Dr. Sally Mackenzie has been named a 2013 Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). The Fellow of ASPB award was established in 2007 to recognize distinguished and long-term contributions to plant biology and service to the Society by current members in areas including research, education, and professional and public service. Dr. Mackenzie has served on numerous ASPB committees including the Executive Committee (2007 to present), the Public Affairs Committee (2009-present), and the Publications Committee, which she has chaired since 2006 and also on the editorial board of Plant Physiology.

Special Recognition
Special recognition to Dr. Ray Chollet, Professor Emeritus, who was also named a 2013 Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and to Dr. Brian Larkins, Associate Vice Chancellor for Life Sciences, who is the recipient of the 2013 Stephen Hales Prize.

NSF award aids Basset's coenzyme Q research

Dr. Gilles Basset(December 2012) Nearly all organisms — from animals and plants to many bacteria — require the micronutrient ubiquinone, or coenzyme Q, for survival. Humans produce it in their bodies and consume it in their diets. But scientists don’t understand how cells produce this vital compound.

Gilles Basset, an assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture, is using a new approach to study this elusive nutrient. His research may lead to improving human health. A faculty member in UNL’s Center for Plant Science Innovation, Basset studies how plants synthesize and metabolize chemicals beneficial to health.

He’s expanding his ubiquinone research with a five-year, $784,820 Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER Award, from the National Science Foundation. This prestigious award helps outstanding pre-tenure faculty develop as teacher-scholars and researchers.

“We know that they are very important, but we don’t understand how living organisms make these compounds,” Basset said of ubiquinones. “Understanding how they are made will allow us to, for instance, improve plant-based food.”

Read more about Dr. Basset's ubiquinone research at Today@UNL.

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