This Lebanese-American Is One Of The Most Influential Plant Biologists Of Her Generation

Meet The Lebanese-American Biologist Who Is Changing Our Understanding Of Photosynthesis
HHMI/Brad Torchia | A Wall of Hope

Joanne Chory, a renowned Lebanese-American biologist and geneticist, has been awarded the estimable 2020 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize.

Chory is a professor and director of the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, as well as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The international award, which targets outstanding women scientists, recognizes Chory’s invaluable contributions to plant biology, most notably her work on a small mustard plant known as thale cress.

Through her three decades of work on this plant, Chory uncovered entirely new information about how plants function, which made her one of the most influential plant biologists of her generation.

As a geneticist, Chory pioneered the application of molecular genetics to plant biology, ultimately transforming the world’s understanding of photosynthesis.

She has more recently incorporated her decades of knowledge and experience in her effort to help combat climate change using a natural solution: taking advantage of plants’ natural ability to capture and store carbon.

The scientist currently heads a research team working to alter key genetic pathways to produce crop variants with deeper roots that can absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground.

Last year, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies received $35 million as an award from the TED Audacious Project in support of Chory’s innovative initiative to fight climate change.

Chory, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1955 to Lebanese parents, was presented the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize on October 22nd this year.

She holds numerous awards for her remarkable achievements in genetics and plant biology, including the American Society of Plant Biologists’ Charles Albert Shull Award, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, and others.

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