BTI promotes faculty member Fay-Wei Li
The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is delighted to announce that faculty member Fay-Wei Li has been promoted to Associate Professor on January 13. Li was evaluated on his achievements to date and likelihood of continued success in the future.
Since joining BTI in 2017, Li has developed an internationally-recognized program on seed-free plants, both in terms of genome sequencing and in making biological discoveries. He also is an excellent science communicator, with a knack for explaining the importance of scientific discoveries to a wide range of audiences.
The plant evolutionary biologist has particularly become known for his role in discovering new species, including a cyanobacterium isolated from a hornwort, an alga named after poet laureate Amanda Gorman, and a fern genus named after Lady Gaga.
Both internal and external colleagues strongly and unequivocally recommended Li’s promotion, providing many important contributions to science. Just a few examples of these comments include that Li is the “‘go-to’ genomics expert” in the area of seed-free plants, and that “he has an amazing skill for making basic science seem exciting to both scientists in other fields and the public.”
“Fay-Wei has become a widely known leader in the study of what are called seed-free plants, mainly ferns and hornworts,” says BTI President David Stern. “Many of these species are fascinating from an evolutionary and ecological point of view, but have been little studied. Fay-Wei’s work has been able to shed light on novel photosynthetic mechanisms, new symbioses, and he has also identified new species. Together, these discoveries have helped us learn about the origins of more familiar plants, while offering ideas that could be applied to plant modification in an era of climate change.”
“Like the ferns and other beautiful plants in our atrium, Fay-Wei’s work helps us appreciate biodiversity and causes us to think more deeply about the many roles that plants play in our world. As a highly collaborative and creative scientist, he is helping to spread this appreciation and understand the biological and evolutionary mechanisms that underly it,” adds Stern.
Paul Debbie, BTI’s Director of Research and New Business Development, says, “It has really been a pleasure over the past six years to watch Fay-Wei establish a new program here at BTI that is advancing an exciting field of plant evolution, and doing it with some of the most ancient and weird (his word!) plant species on the planet. Along with being a top-rated scientist, he has an innate ability to connect and communicate his science with the people in the world around us.”
BTI held a celebration party in Li’s honor on February 8. In classic form, Li read a speech written by the chatbot ChatGPT:
@btiscienceCongrats Fay-Wei Li for being promoted to Associate Professor!