ISU Alumnus Elected to National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences announced the election of 120 members and 24 international members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Members are elected in recognition of their contributions to original research. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can achieve.

Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar
Dr. Savithramma P. Dinesh-Kumar

Included in those elected is Dr. Savithramma P. Dinesh-Kumar, Professor and Chair in the Department of Plant Biology at the College of Biological Sciences - University of California, Davis. After getting his PhD in Dr. Allen Miller's lab at Iowa State University (MCDB 1993), where he made the infectious clone of BYDV genome that we still use today, he went on to join then-graduate student Steve Whitham at UC Berkely in being the first to clone a plant virus resistance gene. (Whitham et al. Cell 1994).

Dr. Dinesh-Kumar's research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of how plants defend against pathogens and pathogens counter plants' defense arsenals. He also studies how autophagy (self-eating) functions as a central cellular process during immunity and how organelle such as chloroplasts communicate with the nucleus during defense. Collectively, Dr. Dinesh-Kumar's research has deepened our understanding of complex plant defense strategies, and contributed to strategies that may help develop crops that are resilient against environmental challenges and diseases.