The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) announced on January 14, 2015 that Dr. Caroline Dean of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, United Kingdom, is the winner of the 2015 FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award. Professor Dean receives the award for her outstanding contributions to plant biology, in particular for her work to understand how changes in temperature affect the molecular events that control the timing and duration of flowering in higher plants. The FEBS/EMBO Women in Science Award recognizes outstanding achievements of female researchers in molecular biology. Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of researchers. Dr. Dean’s early research helped with the development of Arabidopsis as an experimental system in the early 1990s. She then focused on the mechanisms controlling the timing of the switch from vegetative to reproductive development in plants. This work led her to the study of vernalization – the acceleration of flowering by prolonged cold. She investigated why certain plants have to pass through winter before they bloom and how plants remember that they have been exposed to cold temperatures. This resulted in a fundamental understanding of the epigenetic and co-transcriptional mechanisms involved in these processes. She has also shown how variation in the process of vernalization has been essential for the way plants adapt to a range of climates. “Recognition of Caroline’s contribution is timely and forward-looking because of the many challenges for agriculture in the face of climate change,” stated Dr. Joanne Chory, the Howard H. and Maryam R. Newman Chair in Plant Biology and Professor at the Salk Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
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