Honoring David Stern’s Leadership
After leading the Boyce Thompson Institute for 17 years, David Stern has decided to step down as president. He will retain the role during the search for his successor, and plans to lead the Stern lab well into the future.
During his tenure, David has overseen BTI’s evolution during the genomic revolution, as sequencing, bioinformatics and engineering technologies have changed the type of plant science research that can be done. His natural curiosity and openness to take risks have enabled the Institute to remain nimble and act quickly to challenges and opportunities alike. During it all, he maintained a vibrant research laboratory focused on chloroplast biology, bioenergy and nuclear-cytoplasmic interactions, which he has expanded to include applications of these findings that could increase the sustainability of agriculture during this era of climate change.
Please join us in honoring David’s legacy!
I joined BTI in January 1989, just out of my postdoc. As time passed, I became more curious about the scientific infrastructure around me: the people, the technology, the external forces that shape our discoveries and change the world. In 2001, I became Vice President of Research, which helped me better understand how BTI functions and evolves. In 2004, I was named BTI’s 8th leader, knowing that I would have much to learn in order to help the institute find its future. 17 years later, it is time for BTI to identify a new leader to seize the challenges and opportunities of BTI’s second century, allowing me to pursue new opportunities. To facilitate a smooth transition, I will remain in my role until the next president arrives, up to three years if needed.
As a new president, I was asked to steer an organization that already had a storied history, a strong sense of familial culture, and freedom to operate, and is also located in a superb academic setting. I’ve seen my most important work as helping BTI develop, affirm and pursue its vision, mission and values, while ensuring that a career at BTI allows for personal and professional growth. I believe that BTI research is best served by seeking and attracting curious, diverse and collaborative scientists, and helping them obtain support for their ideas, particularly for goals that are unconventional, open new areas of study, or have strong potential for societal impact.
Science moves quickly, driven by discoveries, enabling technologies, generational change, curiosity, and the forces of the world around us. BTI defines itself as “nimble,” a way of life that has served us well in times of challenge – not least the COVID pandemic – as well as in times of opportunity. Much of the pleasure of my time as president has derived from the strength, resilience and creativity of the staff and leadership around me. These individuals have been visionary in terms of how we shape and enhance our research, training and outreach programs, and in how we engage with the community and world around us.
As I step away from the presidency, I will remain with the Institute, pursuing research and also looking forward to making other contributions, ones I cannot yet know. No matter what happens, BTI will always own a piece of my heart.