Thursday, April 5, 2018 – Reynolds Alumni Ctr.

2014 Distinguished Researcher Award: Walter Gassmann

Walter Gassman

Walter Gassmann earned his Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. His research studies how plants express resistance genes that, directly or indirectly, interact with effector proteins of pathogens and trigger a plant disease resistance response.

"In a set of truly remarkable experiments published in Science and The Plant Journal, Walter Gassmann showed that a transporter, named HKT1, mediates potassium and sodium transport," noted Julian Schroeder, co-director for the Center for Food and Fuel for the 21st Century, University of California, San Diego. "These landmark studies opened up a new field that is now being pursued by many laboratories globally."

Dr. Gassmann's international reputation is also evidenced by his multiple editor positions on various journals, his service on multiple federal grant panels, and his service as a session co-Chair at the XVth International Congress of the International Society of Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions in Kyoto in 2012.

—Roger Innes, professor of biology, Indiana University

"Dr. Gassmann has a knack for collaboration — a rare and valuable trait — and is well integrated within the Plant Biology program at Mizzou," said John McDowell, Scientific Director, Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. "He comes across as a nice, even-keeled person, with thoughtful, sound judgment. I would imagine that he is an effective mentor and an exemplary colleague."

"Walter is willing to take research risks," said Jack Schultz, director of the Bond Life Sciences Center. "He is involved in a project to understand the function of two genes, one in plants and another in mice, that are similar structurally and may have similar biochemical roles. He is expressing the mouse gene in plants and monitoring its effect on development, where its structure suggests it should be important. Results suggest that structure does indeed predict function, at least partly; the plants seem to develop well with the mouse gene instead of their own. This is not only risky work, it is also breakthrough work."