According to an announcement issued on January 9, 2017, Dr. Ottoline Leyser (photo) has been named recipient of the 2017 FEBS|EMBO Women in Science Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievements of female researchers in the life sciences in the past five years. Dr. Leyser, who is Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at Cambridge University, UK, receives the honor for her work on the evolutionary, developmental and biochemical mechanisms that enable plants to respond and adapt to environmental changes. “It’s a great honor to receive this award,” says Dr. Leyser. “It’s both a joy and a privilege to work in research science, especially in molecular biology, where technological advances are currently opening up so many opportunities for discovery. To make the most of these opportunities, science needs diversity, and initiatives like this award have an important part to play in opening the doors of the laboratory to everyone." Professor Leyser’s focus on understanding how plants respond to their environment led to her discovery of the mechanism of action of the plant hormone auxin and the identification of a second group of plant hormones known as strigolactones. She has formulated a model of how the two hormone systems interact to regulate plant development. Her current work aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this model. In order to tackle this question, she has added computational modelling to the more traditional array of techniques used to study this complex system. Dr. Leyser is also an outstanding role model for future generations of researchers, having successfully combined academic research, parenthood, and other activities.
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