Distinguished Research Professor 2011
Kelly Dawe, professor of plant biology, has investigated the centromere-kinetochrome complex for nearly two decades. He is best known for his contributions to the understanding of kinetochore structure, and he identified the first plant kinetochore proteins. A kinetochore is the protein structure on chromosomes where the spindle fibers attach during cell division; a centromere is the region of DNA typically found near the middle of a chromosome.
Dawe’s lab has made significant contributions to understanding how the sites of centromere assembly are determined by specialized histone proteins that contact the DNA. He is also a leading expert on meiotic drive, a phenomenon in which certain chromosomes undergo preferential segregation to the progeny. He has mentored more than a dozen PhD students, and for 15 years has been the lead investigator on a series of NSF-funded projects totaling $13 million to understand the sequence and function of maize centromeres.
Creative Research Medal 2000