BTI promotes faculty member Fay-Wei Li

by | Feb 21, 2023

A medium shot of Fay-Wei Li, smiling and holding a glass of champagne.

Fay-Wei Li receives a toast at a celebration of his promotion in the Boyce Thompson Institute atrium on February 8. Image credit: Boyce Thompson Institute

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:

Text that says: F: write a thank you speech for my promotion party ChatGPT: Dear colleagues and friends, I am deeply honored to stand here today and receive this promotion. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you who have made this possible. First and foremost, I would like to thank my manager for believing in me and for providing me with the opportunity to grow in my career. Your support and guidance have been invaluable, and I am grateful to have had you as a mentor. I would also like to thank my colleagues who have been a constant source of insipiration, motivation and support. Your encouragement and hard work have made this a truly collaborative effort and I am proud to be a part of such an amazing team. Finally, I would like to thank my friends and family who have always been there for me, both in good times and bad. Your love and support have been a constant source of strength and I am so grateful to have you in my life. Thank you all for being here to celebrate this special moment with me. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career and I am eager to continue making a positive impact in our company. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Cheers to a bright future!


Congratulations Fay-Wei!

@btiscienceCongrats Fay-Wei Li for being promoted to Associate Professor!

♬ original sound – Boyce Thompson Institute

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