Carnegie’s Chen recognized for contributions to plant science

Stanford, CA—Carnegie’s Li-Quing Chen, recipient of a Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science, announced late last year, is honored with an editorial and minireview in New Phytologist this month.

The journal’s Tansley medal is awarded each year in recognition of “outstanding contribution to research in plant science by an individual in the early stages of their career.” Each recipient authors a minireview about the subject area of their work.

Chen is a research associate in the Frommer lab in Carnegie’s Plant Biology Department, where she was formerly a postdoctoral researcher.

She specializes in sugar transporting pores, called SWEETs, which act as little floodgates that release sugar from the cell and are thought to be crucial for processes such as nectar production and pollen nutrition. Li-Qing Chen solved an important mystery: how photosynthetic sugars are supplied to the phloem conduits that move sugars from leaves to roots and seeds. At least of equal importance, these systems can be hijacked by pathogens to access nutritional sugars, as well. Chen’s identification of SWEETs also promises to offer insights into key processes relevant to crop yield.

“We are thrilled that Li-Qing has received this honor,” said Wolf Frommer, the department’s director. “She is a fantastic young investigator with immense promise for the future. Her findings have opened up new paradigms for improving crop production and fighting pathogens.”