Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence

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Bob Buchanan

Bob Buchanan's research focuses on thioredoxin and is carried out collaboratively. He studies (1) The diversity of thioredoxin and their role in redox regulation, emphasizing anaerobic archaea and bacteria as well as oxygenic photosynthetic organisms, and (2) Applying thioredoxin to improve the quality and yield of cereals.

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W. Zacheus Cande

The Cande Lab researche​d​ the mechanism of chromosome segregation during mitosis and meiosis, to understand changes in chromosome structure and behavior that lead to pairing of homologous chromosomes during meiotic prophase and their segregation at Meiosis I and II. ​The lab used​ three model organisms: Giardia intestinalis, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and Zea mays. ​The lab also used a computerized light microscope workstation that record​ed​ three-dimensional images of multiple cellular components in fixed and living cells.


Robert Fischer

Robert Fischer has been a member of the faculty at UC Berkeley from 1983 - 2017. He studied the mechanisms that regulate gene imprinting in plants, which cause alleles to be expressed based on their parent of origin, and is essential for seed viability and plant reproduction. He discovered that DNA demethylation in the central cell, adjacent to the egg cell, underlies gene imprinting in flowering plants. DNA demethylation is initiated by a DNA glycosylase, named DEMETER in honor of the Greek goddess of fertility and agriculture, which excises 5-methylcytosine that is replaced by unmethylated cytosine. DNA demethylation in the central cell, which is fertilized to form the nutritive endosperm, releases a cascade of epigenetic regulation that controls the growth of seeds, which are the primary source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy for humans and domesticated animals. He studied DNA demethylation at the genome-wide level and found that small euchromatic transposons, when demethylated, regulate the expression of adjacent genes, and that chromatin remodeling proteins are often required to make transposon targets accessible to DEMETER demethylation. Robert Fischer was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009. He received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Natural Resources in 2010. He was Chair of the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology from 2011-2014. He plans to continue to teach biology classes at UC Berkeley as an Emeritus Faculty member.

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Andrew O. Jackson
Andrew Jackson

The Jackson Lab research focused on how viruses elicit plant diseases, and devised mechanisms for disease control in transgenic plants, working with three viruses: a plus sense monopartite RNA virus, tomato bushy stunt virus; a plus sense tripartite RNA virus, barley stripe mosaic virus; and a minus strand plant rhabdovirus, sonchus yellow net virus. The lab used genetic and biochemical analysis to investigate replication and movement of these viruses and to determine virus-host interactions culminating in disease.

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Watson M. Laetsch


Watson Laetch grows walnuts commercially, raises antique apple varieties and has a vineyard producing Chardonnay and Merlot grapes, from which he makes wine. He serves on the College Advisory Board, is Co-Chair of Bancroft Library Capital Campaign and Mark Twain Lunch Club and also is involved in Friends of Cal History, and leads Bear Treks with his wife. He's the past and present Chair, Board of Directors, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute; Member, Board of Directors, Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland; and Member, Board of Trustees, University of California Press Foundation.


Richard Malkin


Most of the proteins involved in photosynthetic energy conversion and electron transport seem organized into integral membrane protein complexes. Dick Malkin studied the structure-function relationships of the cytochrome b6f complex, an essential electron transfer complex that links the two photosystems in all oxygenic photosynthetic organisms.


Chris Somerville 

Chris Somerville moved from Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science to UC Berkeley in July 2007 to lead the development of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), which he subsequently Directed until June 2016. He was also a professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and from 2009 until June 2017, he was the Philomathia Professor of Alternative Energy. Chris published more than 250 research papers in biochemistry, and cell and molecular biology. Most of his research focused on questions that were amenable to study using plants, fungi and bacteria as experimental organisms. His work was largely focused on elucidating the mechanisms by which the major storage and structural components of plants and bacteria were synthesized, and, in recent years he also studied how such components could be depolymerized for use as feedstocks and synthons for production of fuels and chemicals. He was an early advocate for the use of Arabidopsis as a model organism and was an organizer of the international collaboration that sequenced the Arabidopsis genome.  He and Elliot Meyerowitz (Caltech) shared the Balzan Prize for their role in establishing Arabidopsis as one of the most widely used model organisms. Chris was the recipient of many other awards and has been awarded six honorary doctorates. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society of London. He now works in a philanthropy that supports basic and applied scientific research. 

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Athanasios Theologis


The Theologis Lab researched the molecular mechanism of auxin action, using auxin-inducible genes as probes. The Lab isolated novel, interacting proteins that bind to the auxin responsive domains, and constructed Arabidopsis transgenic lines for isolating mutants responsible for transcriptional activation by auxin. They also researched ACC synthase gene expression regulation. The Lab used some ACS genes as molecular probes to study signal transduction pathways responsible for auxin inducibility of ACC synthase gene expression.


Loy Volkman



After 27 years studying baculovirus pathogenesis, Loy Volkman retired from Cal in January, 2007. Her work showed that baculoviruses uniquely usurp the actin cytoskeleton for progeny production. In 2006, her lab and that of Matthew Welch demonstrated that the interaction of viral protein Ac p78/83 and the cellular Arp2/3 complex regulates nuclear actin in baculovirus-infected cells (Science 314,464-468, 06). Volkman continues to participate in baculovirus research as a Welch lab guest member at UC Berkeley, and as an Expression Systems advisory board member in Woodland, CA.

David Zusman

David Zusman

The Zusman Lab did research to determine how signal transduction regulates directed motility and behavior in the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus using an integrated approach that combines biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. M. xanthus is an excellent model system to address fundamental questions concerning cell-cell signaling and directed movement as cells form multicellular biofilms and fruiting bodies as part of a complex life cycle.

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