Plant Geneticist elected Member of Country’s First Learned Society

Susan Wessler is the first faculty member at UC Riverside to be elected to the prestigious American Philosophical Society
By Iqbal Pittalwala | UCR Today |


Dr. Susan Wessler
Susan Wessler is a distinguished professor of genetics at UC Riverside. Photo credit: L. DUKA.



RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Renowned geneticist Susan Wessler at the University of California, Riverside has been elected a member of the American Philosophical Society(APS), the country’s first learned society.

The APS has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life for more than 250 years. It was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.”  Membership in the APS is entirely honorary and reflects extraordinary accomplishments in all fields of intellectual endeavor.

“Dr. Wessler is the embodiment of the American Philosophical Society’s purpose of “promoting useful knowledge”: her passion for, and commitment to, scientific engagement of the next generation of scientific leaders is boundless,” said Marylynn Yates, the dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.  “We are proud to have as a colleague such an outstanding researcher who is devoted to instilling her passion for science in others.”

Wessler holds a University of California President’s Chair and is a distinguished professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences(NAS) and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In February 2011, she was elected home secretary of the NAS.  Later that year, she was named the recipient of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology 2012 Excellence in Science Award. Most recently, she was named a fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

“It is humbling to be elected to membership in the historic APS,” Wessler said. “I am delighted that my contributions to plant genetics and the contributions of my current and former students have been recognized by the institute.”

Wessler’s research focuses on plant transposable elements and their role in the evolution of plant genomes.  She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the first recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Southeastern Universities Research Association.

Wessler is co-author of The Mutants of Maize (Cold Spring Harbor Press) and of more than 120 research articles. She is one of the principal authors of Introduction to Genetic Analysis, a leading textbook used in introductory genetics courses in colleges and universities throughout the world. In addition, she is an associate editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is on the editorial board of Current Opinions in Plant Biology and on the Board of Reviewing Editors of the journal Science.

The membership of the APS includes eminent scholars from a wide variety of disciplines. The society promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and community outreach. Members are nominated and elected by their peers in the Society.  This year, the APS offered membership to 34 new members.

Wessler is the first faculty member at UCR to be elected a member of the APS.


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