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Maria Harrison Named William H. Crocker Scientist

Maria HarrisonAt its May meeting, the BTI Board of Directors named Maria Harrison as the William H. Crocker Scientist. This chair was created in 1979 to be “conferred from time to time by the Board of Directors on a Scientist whose outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge deserves singular recognition among the community in which (s)he serves.

In honoring Maria, the Board recognized her original and high-impact discoveries that have contributed much to our understanding of the initiation and maintenance of mycorrhizal symbiosis, an intimate partnership between certain types of soil fungi and plant roots that allow the plants to scavenge nutrients from the soil more effectively. The Board also recognized Maria’s outstanding service to the BTI, Cornell and international communities. Within BTI, Maria established the Plant Cell Imaging Center, which provides campus and local scientists access to high-resolution microscopy. She also was heavily involved in faculty recruitment through the Molecular and Chemical Ecology Initiative, a joint BTI-Cornell project designed to strengthen the campus in this emerging field. In addition, Maria serves on several international committees and editorial boards, and she has chaired or served on numerous BTI committees.

BTI is proud to honor Maria by naming her the William H. Crocker Scientist, a chair previously held by A. Carl Leopold. William Crocker (1876-1950) was a professor of plant physiology at the University of Chicago, where he conducted pioneering work on the plant hormone ethylene, before becoming BTI’s first managing director in 1924. Thus, Crocker was intimately involved in the conception and initial years of BTI research. He retired as managing director in 1949, and was succeeded by George McNew. In Chicago, Crocker was a member of the Botany Department along with other eminent plant scientists such as Merle Coulter, Charles Barnes and Charles Shull. In those years, the department was ranked first among its academic peers. It is in this spirit of excellence that Maria Harrison holds the William Crocker Chair, and we look forward to her future accomplishments.

More about the Harrison Lab here.

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