Campus News

Biologist named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Susan R. Wessler, Regents Professor of Plant Biology at UGA, has been named one of 20 scientists at research universities across the nation as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. Each of the researchers will receive $1 million over the next four years to bring the creativity they have shown in the lab to the undergraduate classroom.

HHMI invited 100 research universities to nominate faculty members. A panel of scientists and educators reviewed 150 nominees’ proposals and eventually selected 20 HHMI Professors at 18 universities in 12 states. All are tenured faculty members.

“It was becoming clear to me that the rapid progress in modern biology was overwhelming our students,” says Wessler. “The widening gulf between the optimism and enthusiasm in our research laboratories and the frustration and lack of interest in our undergraduate biology classrooms prompted me to take action. I believe the funding from HHMI will allow me to help bring the excitement of science in a fresh way to our undergraduates.”

Wessler is recognized internationally for her work in molecular biology and genetics. She is best known for her studies of transposable elements in plant genomes and their contribution to gene and genome evolution.

The HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that employs hundreds of leading biomedical scientists working at the forefront of their fields.

“This is yet another important honor for one of the Franklin College’s most accomplished researchers and teachers,” says Garnett S. Stokes, dean of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “Susan Wessler is in many ways the ideal faculty member, and this latest honor proves it. She honors us with her presence at UGA.”