2007 Outstanding Faculty Award: Robert Sharp
Robert Sharp, professor in the Division of Plant Sciences, has been at MU since 1986 and has developed a worldwide reputation in plant water stress physiology. The effort is critically important. Drought can have a major impact on plant productivity and farm sustainability.
Research performed by Sharp is of significance to enhance lives in Missouri as well as in Africa, Asia and wherever people struggle with producing enough food to survive and prosper.
He works with geneticists, biochemists and molecular biologists. The worldwide reach of his work is revealed by his numerous invitations to speak at national and international meetings. He has served as an editor and editorial board member for some of the top journals in his field.
Sharp earned his Ph.D. from the University of Lancaster, UK, and performed his postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California-Davis. Among his awards are the UK Society for Experimental Biology President's Medal and the MU Distinguished Award in Research given by Gamma Sigma Delta, the honor society of agriculture. In 2007, Sharp was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
He served as agronomy department chair from 2000-2005 and as interim director of the Division of Plant Sciences from October 2005 until March 2008.
In a letter supporting Sharp's Mumford nomination, Jonathan Lynch, professor at Penn State University, said that Sharp has developed an important and novel line of research on the mechanisms by which crop roots adapt to water stress. Lynch said that Sharp's work has revealed how roots sense and respond to drought stress by growing deep into the soil.
"HIS WORK IS EXCEPTIONAL IN SEVERAL WAYS. IT IS NOVEL AND CREATIVE AND NOT MERELY AN EXTENSION OF PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE. ANOTHER IS THAT IT INTEGRATES PROCESSES OCCURRING AT MULTIPLE BIOLOGICAL SCALES, FROM THE ORGAN LEVEL DOWN TO MOLECULAR PROCESSES. A THIRD NOTEWORTHY FEATURE IS THAT IT IS INTERDISCIPLINARY, EMPLOYING A RANGE OF TECHNIQUES FROM MATHEMATICS, BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY."
— Jonathan Lynch, Professor, Penn State University
Lynch said that Sharp's research is regarded as "elegant."
Jennifer MacAdam, associate professor at Utah State University, said Sharp is intellectually rigorous and is an excellent mentor to his students and colleagues. "Bob is a very successful scientist, and not every great scientist is also a great administrator," she wrote. "I've always been impressed by the seriousness with which he has taken his administrative responsibilities."
"During his tenure at Missouri he has mentored a cadre of graduate students and postdocs who are now using skills learned in Bob's laboratory to make scientific progress at a number of research universities around the world," added Wendy Kuhn Silk, professor at the University of California-Davis.