Professor Caroline Dean wins prestigious Women In Science Award

Professor Caroline Dean has been awarded a Women In Science award from the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS).

Professor Dean has received the award for her outstanding contributions to plant biology, in particular for her work to understand how changes in temperature affect the molecular events that control the timing and duration of flowering in plants.

The FEBS | EMBO Women in Science Award recognises outstanding achievements of female researchers in molecular biology. Winners of the award are role models who inspire future generations of researchers.

Professor Dean said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been selected for this award and would like to give credit to the fantastic PhD students and post-docs who contributed to all the projects in my lab. My love of science has driven my research and scientific discovery over the last 25 years. I will continue to encourage all women and girls who have a passion for science to be brave and pursue that passion as far as it will take them. Your gender should never limit your horizons.”

Professor Dale Sanders, Director of the John Innes Centre said: “This prestigious award recognises Caroline’s outstanding research in the control of flowering in plants – work that has led to her becoming a world-leader in her field.  Caroline is an excellent role model and ambassador for women in science. Her passion and drive for her science is inspiring and she works hard to encourage more women to aspire to be scientists and to reach their full potential. She is a shining example to us all.”

Caroline also recently received the Biotechnology and Biological Research Sciences Council (BBSRC) Excellence in Bioscience Award in October 2014. The award recognised Professor Dean’s illustrious plant science career. In particular, her pioneering role in the uptake and development of Arabidopsis thaliana as a model species for plant research.

Following Caroline Dean’s research developing Arabidopsis as a model plant in the early 1990s, she researched the mechanisms controlling the timing of the switch from vegetative to reproductive development in plants. Professor Dean then studied vernalization – the acceleration of flowering by prolonged cold.

She investigated why certain plants have to pass through winter before they bloom and how plants remember that they have been exposed to cold temperatures. This led to her developing a fundamental understanding of the molecular changes that occur in plant genes during this process.

She has also shown how vernalization has been essential for the way plants adapt to a range of climates.

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