David Braun, professor of plant science and technology at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR), has been named director of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG), effective Feb. 1, 2022.
“I am humbled and excited to lead this incredibly talented group of creative and world-class plant biologists,” Braun said. “The IPG is part of my core identity at MU, and I am extremely grateful to it for all of the support it offers to faculty and staff members and the outstanding training environment it provides for our students and postdocs. I look forward to advocating on its behalf to enhance opportunities for its continued growth and success. I also wish to thank Robert Sharp, the outgoing director, and Vicki Bryan, the outgoing program coordinator, for their leadership and tremendous dedication to the IPG for the last 10 years.”
The IPG is a community of faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and professionals pursuing novel, creative and transformative ideas in plant biology from a range of disciplines. Established in 1981, the IPG is designed to provide a flexible research environment that transcends traditional departmental boundaries by facilitating the sharing of ideas and resources among faculty members and students, and creating opportunities for collaboration through interdisciplinary meetings, seminars and an annual symposium.
Braun has been an active member of IPG over the years, serving on the executive committee and as a session chair and organizing committee member for multiple IPG annual symposiums.
“One cross-cutting research theme of the IPG is studying how plants adapt to changing environments. Among several priorities, I intend to help grow our faculty in multiple areas that address this fundamental problem to enable novel solutions for food and energy security in the face of global climate change,” he said. “Additionally, I will work to broaden the inclusion of underrepresented groups in plant biology and develop training programs to maximize the success of all IPG early-career scientists.”
Braun earned his PhD in biological sciences from the University of Missouri, and joined Mizzou as a faculty member in 2010. The overarching goal for his research is to understand how carbohydrate partitioning (CP) is regulated using two model systems, corn and sorghum. CP is the process by which sugars produced in leaves are loaded into the phloem, transported long-distance through the veins, and distributed into carbon-importing sink tissues such as roots, stems, flowers and seeds. Determining the mechanisms controlling sugar allocation and delivery is critical for designing novel approaches to enhance plant productivity and food security.
Braun is a professor in the Divisions of Plant Science and Technology, and Biological Sciences; director of the MU Plant Growth Facilities; and formerly the director of the Missouri Maize Center. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; an active member of professional organizations including the Maize Genetics Cooperation; and has received the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Faculty-Alumni Award and the MU Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity in the Biological Sciences.
“We are thrilled to announce Dr. David Braun as director of our world-renowned Interdisciplinary Plant Group,” said Christopher R. Daubert, CAFNR vice chancellor and dean. “He has been a part of IPG for more than a decade, and brings tremendous knowledge of the collaboration and top-tier research that make it so unique and successful.”
IPG is one of seven Programs of Distinction in CAFNR, which serves as the group’s administrative home.