August 2011

Member Update

Wessler receives FASEB Excellence in Science Award

Susan R. Wessler, who holds a University of California president's chair and is a distinguished professor of genetics in the department of botany and plant sciences at the University of California, Riverside, has been named the recipient of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2012 Excellence in Science Award.

The award recognizes women whose outstanding career achievements in biological science have contributed significantly to furthering our understanding of a particular discipline. Wessler is recognized internationally for her work in plant genome structure and stability.

Wessler's research looks at transposable elements in plants with a focus on the characterization of active transposable elements and determination of how they contribute to genome evolution and adaptation. To address these questions, Wessler uses a combination of genetic, biochemical and genomic approaches.

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In memoriam James Brown

James Robert Brown was born in Port Angeles, Wash., on August 17, 1930, and died in Austin, Texas on May 7, 2011, at the age of 80.

Brown entered the University of Washington in 1949, but his studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He completed his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1956 and obtained a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Washington Medical School in 1963, working with Hans Neurath on the fundamental protein characterization of pro-carboxypeptidase.

Brown was awarded a NATO postdoctoral fellowship to work at the Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England (1963 – 1965), where he participated in sequencing chymotrypsin and elastase with Brian Hartley and Frederick Sanger. Together with Hartley, Brown developed the method of diagonal electrophoresis to locate disulfide bridges in proteins. He obtained a second NATO fellowship (1965 – 1966) to work in the biophysics department at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovoth, Israel, before joining the University of Texas at Austin, where he worked as a faculty member and then as a research scientist with the Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute until his retirement in 1992. While in Austin, Brown determined the primary structure of both human and bovine serum albumin.

A modest and reserved individual with an ironic sense of humor, Brown loved his family, science, music and the natural world and supported a number of humanitarian and progressive causes throughout his life.

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