Distinguished Research Professor 2020
Jim Leebens-Mack, professor of plant biology, is a globally prominent researcher of evolutionary genomics and plant systematics and evolution. His research team fuses state-of-the-art evolutionary analyses with genomic approaches, advancing fundamental understanding of biological innovations in plant history. Leebens-Mack analyzes, annotates and builds databases of plant genomes, gene families and their evolutionary histories, using this information to determine the number and timing of gene and whole genome duplications. He co-led sequencing and analysis of the genome of Amborella trichopoda, a shrub-like tree species that diverged from other flowering plant species some 150 million years ago. The project was a milestone in plant biology and genomics, allowing Leebens-Mack and his team to document changes in ancestral genomes associated with the origin and explosive diversification of flowering plants. Leebens-Mack also spearheaded evolutionary analyses for the 1000 Plants Genome Initiative, an international consortium of scientists who have sequenced and analyzed transcribed genes from species across the plant kingdom.
- Creative Research Medal 2016