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LTAAward William Ogren 10-11

LTAAward William Ogren September 10, 2011

Ceremony of the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic Research Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor William Ogren

William (Bill) L. Ogren got his B.S. in 1961 at the University of Wisconsin. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in 1965 from Wayne State University. Professor David Krogman was his thesis advisor. In 1965 Bill joined the USDA Regional Soybean Laboratory (Town or State), and in 1978 he headed the newly created USDA Photosynthesis Research Unit at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and held the titles of Professor of Agronomy and Plant Biology.

Bill scientific accomplishments are numerous and will be covered in more details in an article being prepared for Photosynthesis Research.

" In 1986 he was elected to the US National Academy of Science and received the American Society of Plant Biology Charles F.Kettering Award for excellence in Photosynthesis Research.

" In 1990 he received the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Award

" From 1990 t0 1991 he was president of the American Society of Plant Biology

" In 1997 he was inducted in the Agriculture Research Service Hall of Fame, and

" In 2011 he received the Rebeiz Foundation for Basic 2010 Research Life Time Achievement Award for his contributions to photosynthesis research

The Ceremony

The ceremony took place on Saturday September 10, 2011, at 5:00 pm at the RFFBR headquarters, at 2209 Edgewater Place, Champaign Illinois. Over 65 guests, including Five Foundation Board Directors (Christoph Benning, Govindjee, Archie Portis, Constantin A. Rebeiz, and Carole Rebeiz) attended the ceremony. Tino Rebeiz acted as Master of Ceremony. The ceremony consisted of a social hour, a buffet dinner accompanied by an assortment of wines from the Foundation cellar, and testimonials by, Govindjee [University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC)], Archie Portis, USDA and UIUC, Jack Widholm, Professor emeritus UIUC, David Krogman, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University, and Christoph Benning (Michigan State University at East Lansing) filling in for Chris Somerville, University of California at Berkeley. The ceremony was concluded with a Champagne toast to Bill.

A copy of the mahogany framed certificate of recognition to Bill Ogren is Shown Below

ogren certificatre

C. A. Rebeiz (Tino) acted as master of ceremony and introduced the various speakers. He stated that we are gathered here tonight to honor the achievements of Bill Ogren an international Scientist who made significant contributions to Photosynthesis and Photorespiration Research. I will not dwell on Bill's achievements as others more qualified than I will do that tonight as well as elsewhere (Photosynth Res: On line, Jan 03, 2012). However I would like to reflect on the state of affairs in scientific undertakings. Broadly speaking scientific achievements fall in two categories:

  1. Current Dynamic achievements which push the frontiers of Science forward, and
  2. Past Scientific Achievements that have made their proof, and joined the very important scientific perspective of history.
One of my Favorite quotes is that of Sir Bertrand Russel, the known British philosopher, who stated in one of his essays that science moves forward by scientists building on the shoulders of one another. By recognizing the achievements of Bill Ogren, we hope to encourage young scientists to build on Bill's work in inventing the future.

Then C. A. Rebeiz continued several of the speakers tonight will describe some of Bill's achievements. I would like to point out that these achievements are of universal value. With this said I would like to make a few acknowledgments and introduce tonight speakers.

First I would like to welcome on this occasion Harald Paulsen, Professor ,University of Munich who just replaced Kenneth Hoober on the Foundation Board as a pigment protein specialist.
Second. I also would like to acknowledge David Krogman, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University and Bill's Ph.D Advisor who made the trip from Purdue University in honor of Bill.
Third, I would like to acknowledge Raheel for his many contributions to our painting collection.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the Board Directors of the Rebeiz Foundation who by casting their vote have chosen Bill Ogren as the recipient of the 2010 RFFBR Life Time Achievement Award. They are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Thomas Bach, University of Strasbourg, France
  2. Christoph Benning, Michigan State University
  3. Henry Daniell, Central Florida University
  4. Govindjee, UIUC
  5. J. Kenneth Hoober, Arizona State University
  6. William Lucas, University of California at Davis
  7. Archie Portis, of UIUC,
  8. Carole Rebeiz RFFBR
  9. Thomas Sharkey, Michigan State University, and
  10. Baishnab C. Tripathy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  11. The Eleventh vote was cast by C. A. Rebeiz

With this said I would like to introduce tonight speakers, and the platform was turned over to Govindjee, Professor Emeritus at UIUC, 2006 recipient of the RFFBR LTAAward; Archie Portis, UIUC, a collaborator and friend of Bill Ogren; Jack Widholm, UIUC, a collaborator and friend of Bill Ogren, David Krogman, Perdue University and Bill's Ph.D thesis advisor, and Christoph Benning , Michigan State University, East Lansing, who read the testimonial mailed to us by Chris Somerville, Professor at the University of California in Berkeley and a former postdoctoral trainee in Bill's laboratory.

Govindjee, an expert Photosynthesis scientist, a recipient of the first Rebeiz Foundation Life Time Achievement Award, given in 2006, and a member of the RFFBR Board of Directors, gave a PowerPoint presentation that detailed some of Bill's achievements. A condensed text account of the presentation is given below:

Govindjee started by congratulating Bill for receiving the 2010 RFFBR award then listed Bill's University training and the various awards he received. Then he mentioned that he team taught with Bill a course on photosynthesis and recalled that several of the students who took that course became professors elsewhere and remembered Bill's thorough lectures. Then Govindjee proceeded to mention that Bill was inducted in 1997 in the Science Hall of Fame of the Agricultural Research Service for his pioneering work in discovering how plants use sunlight to make food. He mentioned that Bill's work on photosynthesis helped making it a key factor worldwide for crop improvements. The Govindjee commented upon some of Bill's discoveries (also see photosynthesis research vol: pages xx-yy (2012).

Then the podium was turned over to Archie Portis. Archie Portis reviewed the research and leadership accomplishments of Bill Ogren. More details about can be found in Photosynthesis Research "News Report" covering the award ceremony (Photosynth Res: 0nline Jan 3, 2012).

Briefly, in 1971 Bill ogren and George Bowes published two revolutionary papers that linked photosynthesis and photorespiration and demonstrated that ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase also was an oxygenase, allowing reaction of RuBP with O2 rather than CO2. Bill and william Laing then developed equations that quantitatively related the enzymes kinetic constants to the photosynthetic response of leaves to O2, CO2 and temperature. Soon thereafter, Bill and Chris Somerville demonstrated the power of Arabidopsis as a model system in plant biology by creating the first plant nuclear gene mutants with lesions in a specific physiological process, i.e. photorespiration. Doug Jordan and Bill then showed that variation in the specificity of rubisco for CO2 versus O2 occurs in diverse photosynthetic species as an evolutionary response to their environment and geological changes in the atmosphere. Next, using a mutant isolated by Somerville, Mike Salvucci, Archie Portis and Bill were able to establish genetically, physiologically and biochemically that the activity of rubisco is regulated by a previously unknown protein, named rubisco activase. Jeff Werneke and Bill applied recently developed molecular biology tools to isolate the Rubisco activase gene and discovered that expression of the protein involves an alternative pre-mRNA splicing process, the first characterization of such a process in plants. Finally, Archie Portis presented additional examples of Bill's extraordinary leadership accomplishments.

Then Jack widholm took the podium and gave a personal account of his experiences with Bill. He made the following statement:
It is a great honor for me to be a part of the Ogren Lifetime Achievement Award Ceremony. We have done work together and been friends since 1968. I am not a photosynthesis person but in 1967 when I was working at the International Minerals and Chemical Corporation in Libertyville, Illinois, I had an idea about how to screen for plants that lacked photorespiration. The idea was to grow C3 plants under low CO2 conditions below the CO2 compensation concentration where they would lose CO2 and die. I wrote a letter to the USDA to get funding, I got none, but the letter made it to Bill in the USDA and he responded that it might be a good idea. Interestingly in May 1968, I joined the Agronomy Department. at the University of Illinois and Bill was already there . So we started working together on that idea. We showed that indeed C3 but not C4 plants would die under low CO2 concentrations and started screening an oat collection as well as 350,000 mutagenized soybean plants that failed to survive under low CO2 concentrations. Clearly, if we had succeeded in eliminating photorespiration, the yields of many crops would have increased greatly, but we did not, and later work by Bill and Chris Sommerville with Arabidopsis showed that the photorespiratory pathway cannot be blocked and still have viable plants and attempts to alter Rubisco to not react with oxygen have so far been unsuccessful. This work with Arabidopsis mutants opened up a most important research area using Arabidopsis as a plant model species.
My lab also collaborated with Bill's lab on the characterization of a number of unique photosynthetic suspension cell cultures that we developed.

I will always remember talking with Bill about his ideas about how photorespiration occurs and his competition with Zelitch and Tolbert, about his problems with Martin Gibbs and publication of his papers in Plant Physiology. I always admired Bill since he was such a thinker who persevered and solved complex problems like the mechanism of photorespiration that clearly is a landmark discovery. His approach was the key to being a great scientist and the awards he has won, including this one, have been justly deserved. Along the way he also helped nurture a group of very astute researchers.

The next Testimonial was delivered by David Krogman. David is a professor Emeritus at Purdue University and was the Ph.D advisor of Bill.

David started by thanking the foundation for the invitation to write and then speak at this ceremony. He stated I arrived at Wayne State University in Detroit in 1961 and so did William L. Ogren. I was teaching an evening class in biochemistry. A few weeks of classes and an exam revealed that Bill Ogren was the best of the thirty students attending the course. Immediately I asked Bill to consider post-graduate studies. A week later, Bill decided to enter the MS/PhD program. He became a fine bench worker and a man of powerful intellect. He graduated in 1965 and his PhD thesis was perfectly written. It explained his work in the roles of pyridine nucleotides in photosynthesis and respiration. After graduation, he began his career at the USDA.
Bill, congratulations on this special evening and for this well-deserved award

The Next testimonial was mailed to us by Chris Sommerville. Chris is a Professor at UC Berkeley, an expert on photosynthesis and completed a postdoctoral in Bill's laboratory. The testimonial was read by Christoph Benning who is a Professor at Michigan State University, at East Lansing, and a former graduate student of Chris. Chris Sommerville's testimonial is given below.
I am delighted that Bill is being honored with this award - and particularly that these remarks are to be read by my former student Christoph Benning, a scientific grandson of Bills.
I arrived in Bills lab in 1978 with no knowledge of photosynthesis or plant biology. By the time I left in 1981 we had created some new thrusts in both topics that fuelled a lot of subsequent discovery. That was only possible because Bill was a brilliant and very supportive mentor who always pointed me in productive directions and provided both a theoretical basis and a lot of practical advice for everything we pursued. He was also unstinting in material support for our experimental work. I not only learned plant physiology from Bill, but also how to support and motivate younger scientists (such as Christoph Benning).
Indeed, during the many years since Bill and I worked together I have frequently found myself thinking about the conversations that he and I had during our time together and realizing that there were a lot of timeless truths in the essence of those conversations. Those of us who studied with Bill were unusually lucky to have had not only the advice of one of the major figures in photosynthesis, but also someone who was wise and generous and thoughtful - a model scientist in my experience.

To end the ceremony, Tino proposed a Champagne Toast to Bill's achievements.

After the Champaign toast the guests were served dessert accompanied by a sweet cream cherry liqueur, as well as coffee and tea. After further socialization, the gests started departing.

Acknowledgment We thank Ms. Anita Huett for helping with the buffet and drinks and Laurent Gasquet of Gasquet Photography, who recorded the ceremony on photos. By clicking on the following links, the full photographic recordings of the Social hour and Award Ceremony can be viewed. In many instances the guests can be identified by the name tags they are wearing. A few representative photos taken by Laurent Gasquet are displayed below as a collages.

If FireFox is used as a Web Browser to view the various collages, The photos in the collages can be enlarged as follows:
1.Right click on a photo in the collage
2. choose view image to expand the collage
3. The collage can be expanded further by going to view/zoom/zoom in. This step can be repeated until satisfied.

General Collage

General Collage

First Row, from left to right: C. A. Rebeiz, David Krogmann, Archie Portis, Christoph Benninig, Govindjee
Second row from left to right: Archie Portis giving his Testimonial, David Krogmann giving his testimonial, seated David Krogman and Bill Ogren,listening to testimonials,David Krogman proceeding with his testimonial
Third row from left to right: Bill Ogren holding the certificate of recognition, C. A. Rebeiz, Caroline Ogren, Govinjee giving his Power Point presentatikon
Fourth row from left to righe: Seated, David Krogmann and Bill Ogren, Archie Portis giving his testimonialn, Govindjee giving his Power Point Presentation, Group photo tosting Bill Ogren

Social Hour

Social hour 1

Ogren Social 1

Social hour 2

Ogren Social 2

Social hour 3

Ogredn Social 3

Social Hour 4

Ogren Social 4

Social Hour 5

Ogren Social 5

Social Hour 6

Ogren social 6

Social Hour 7

Ogren Social 7

Social hour 8

Ogren social 8

Ceremony

Ceremony 1

Ogren Ceremony 1

Ceremony 2

Ogren Ceremony 2

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