Prestigious Wolf Prize honour for Professor Dame Caroline Dean

Professor Dame Caroline Dean (FRS) has been awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize in recognition of her pioneering discoveries in a long and distinguished career at the John Innes Centre.

Professor Dean receives the 2020 Wolf Prize in Agriculture for her ground-breaking work on flowering time control and epigenetic basis of vernalization – the process by which plants delay flowering until they have experienced a period of prolonged cold.

John Innes Centre director Professor Dale Sanders (FRS) said: “Caroline’s work has provided many significant breakthroughs of profound importance in the field of biology. She is an outstanding scientist and a fantastic role model and I take great pleasure in congratulating her on receiving this prestigious award.”

“The Wolf prize recognises Caroline’s contribution to our understanding of how plants sense and remember winter, and how this is critically important to agriculture in the face of a changing climate.”

The Wolf Prize is awarded annually to prominent scientists and artists for their unique contribution to humanity.

The 2020 awards mark the 42nd year in which the prize has been awarded by the Israeli-based Wolf Foundation.

The awards ceremony will take place on June 11 in Jerusalem. The awards will be presented by the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin and the chair of the Wolf Foundation.

Professor Dean is one of nine laureates to receive awards in the fields of agriculture, arts, mathematics, medicine and physics.

“It is truly an honour and privilege to receive this award alongside such distinguished figures from the world of science and the arts. I’m grateful to collaborators, notably Professor Martin Howard at the John Innes Centre, and the many other colleagues who have contributed to my scientific journey,” she said.

Professor Dean’s research over a 32-year-career at the John Innes Centre has focussed on two central questions in plant biology: Why do certain plants have to pass through winter before they bloom, and how do they remember that they have been exposed to cold temperatures?

These fundamental questions have been the cornerstone for increasing the yield of agricultural crops in temperate climates.

Professor Dean has been a strong advocate for women in science and a committed role model and mentor.

The Israeli-based Wolf Foundation celebrates and promotes exceptional achievements in the arts and sciences worldwide.

Laureates are selected by international juries that are reappointed every year and consists of world renowned professionals in their field.

Since the Foundation was established, 345 scientists and artists have won Wolf prizes.

The Wolf Foundation was founded by the late Dr Ricardo Wolf, inventor, diplomat and philanthropist, together with former Israeli President Ephraim Katzir and Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Wolf Prize laureates include astrophysicist Steven Hawking, artist Marc Chagall, conductor and opera singer Jessye Norman.

The 2020 announcement includes the joint award for Medicine to Professor Jennifer Doudna (University of California, Berkeley) and Professor Emanualle Charpentier (Max Planck, France) who together led the discovery of the revolutionary gene-editing tool CRISPR.

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