On Friday December 8th, 2023, students, faculty and special guests celebrated the 21st anniversary of the Center for Plant Cell Biology Noel T. Keen Distinguished Awards and Lecture Ceremony. This event which brings UCR's botany, plant biology, microbiology, plant pathology and other departments together in celebration to award undergraduate students, Ethan Nguyen and Michell Santiago, the Neil Campbell Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award, graduate students, Alexander Borowsky and Amiee Uyehara, the Bailey Farms Outstanding Graduate Student Award, post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Thomas Hollin, the CEPCEB Outstanding Postdoc Research Award, and professor, Dr. Hailing Jin, the Natasha V. Raikhel Outstanding Innovation & Leadership Award.
The event was also a special commendation to Dr. Susan Wessler who is retiring from UCR after thirteen years serving this university. Previous students and collaborators, Dr. Dawn Nagel, Dr. David Nelson, Dr. Jason Stajich, and Dr. Sihem Cheloufi, spoke of their time spent with Sue and how she greatly impacted their lives, putting them on the path towards becoming greater scientists. Jim Burnette highlighted the creation of the Dynamic Genome Program which has taught over 6,000 first year students, provides summer research opportunities and outreach programs. He also spoke about the creation of the Campbell Learning Lab in Campbell Hall that Sue put a great deal of effort in getting achieved. The symposium featured distinguished Noel T. Keen lecturer, Dr. Micheal Purugganan; a former graduate student in Susan Wessler's lab during her time at UGA. He is now a silver professor and professor in biology at New York University.
We would like to thank Dr. Susan Wessler for her time at UCR. We would also like to thank Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres and Dr. Patricia Springer for organizing this event, as well as the IIGB staff.