Researcher appointed to distinguished professorship

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University Regents Professor John Browse has been named the Charlotte Y. Martin Distinguished Professor in Agricultural Research. Browse is the second scientist to hold the Martin Professorship, which was created in 1991. The first was C.A. “Bud” Ryan, who died unexpectedly in late 2007.
“The research theme during the time Bud Ryan was the Martin Distinguished Professor centered on the importance of protecting plants against insect attack and fungal pathogens,” Browse said. “My intention is to continue those themes by focusing on the plant-defense hormone jasmonate. My focus will be to identify promising young researchers and to train them as the next generation of agricultural plant scientists for the Pacific Northwest and the nation.”

Jasmonate, the main component of the lush scent of jasmine, is a hormone plants use to regulate reproductive development, immunity to pathogens, defense against insect herbivores and other critical aspects of their biology. Browse led the team that first identified the family of proteins which enable plants to perceive and respond to the jasmonate hormone.

“With the new discoveries in jasmonate signaling, we have the opportunity to make rapid progress in understanding the mechanism of action of this essential defense hormone,” Browse said. “The research carried out by the young scientists supported by the Martin Distinguished Professorship will contribute to this new frontier in plant biology.”

“John Browse is a pioneer and leader in the field of plant biology,” said Daniel J. Bernardo, dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “He was appointed as the Martin Distinguished Professor because he has both the scientific and teaching ability to make a profound impact in agricultural research. He’s already made critical contributions to our understanding of the biology of plant-defense systems. This professorship will enable him to both expand his research and his capacity to train graduate students.”

The Charlotte Y. Martin Foundation, which endows the Distinguished Professorship, is dedicated to protecting the environment through scientific research and supporting students and teaching.

Clarence A. “Bud” Ryan was a pioneer researcher in plant biochemistry and the first WSU faculty member to be admitted to the National Academy of Sciences.

“I am deeply honored to have been appointed to the Martin Distinguished Professorship,” said Browse. “The groundbreaking work of Bud Ryan in plant defense has brought tremendous credit to WSU and to the professorship he held for 16 years.”

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