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Schmitz receives Charles Albert Shull Award from American Society of Plant Biologists

Alan Flurry

University of Georgia faculty member Bob Schmitz was honored with the 2024 Charles Albert Shull Award from the American Society of Plants Biologists (ASPB). The award, initiated in 1971 by the Society to honor Dr. Charles A. Shull, is a monetary award made annually for outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology by a member who is generally under forty-five years of age on January 1st of the year of presentation, or is fewer than ten years from the granting of the doctoral degree.

Schmitz, UGA Foundation Professorship in Plant Sciences and Lars G. Ljungdahl Distinguished Investigator in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, is a highly regarded scientist, teacher, and mentor, as well as leader of a well-established, high-impact research program with multiple collaborations across campus.

"I am excited to have our work celebrated in this way by colleagues across the profession," said Schmitz, a recipient of a UGA Creative Research Medal in Natural Sciences and Engineering who has been recognized as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. "I am inspired to share this recognition with the team of students and scientists in our lab, and my colleagues across campus who support our work."

The Schmitz lab at UGA is focused on understanding the role of genetics and epigenetics in gene expression variation and how it helps both native and crop plants thrive in ever-changing environments. Schmitz' team recently discovered an ‘epigenetic clock’ in plants that provides a window into the recent past decades or centuries to see how plant populations diverge, migrate and respond to human disturbance or changing climates. They’re also leading efforts to identify critical sequences that underly gene expression variation that can be engineered to improve trait performance in agronomically important crops.

"A keystone contributor and leader at the University of Georgia and across a broad global community of plant biologists, Bob has a well-established, high-impact research program that is at the forefront in expanding our understanding of genome-scale regulatory processes," said James Leebens-Mack, Distinguished Research Professor of plant biology at UGA. "Bob's work has been a game changer for many aspects of research into plant chromatin dynamics, including a study on the epigenetic clock in plants co-led by his lab – work that is already spawning new research around the world."

Charles Shull was Professor of Plant Physiology at the University of Chicago, whose personal interest and support were largely responsible for the founding and early growth of the Society. 

Image: Bob Schmitz


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