Recognizing Plant Physiology first authors: Eleanore T. Wurtzel

Eleanore T. Wurtzel, first author of Changing form and function through carotenoids and synthetic biology

Current Position: Professor, Lehman College and The Graduate School, The City University of New York

Education: B.S. in Biochemistry, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (SUNY Stony Brook); Postdoctoral fellowships in Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (Brookhaven National Laboratory; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory).

Non-scientific Interests: Dancing, hiking, travel, music, reading, spending time with family and friends.

Brief Bio: As a Ph.D student, Eleanore Wurtzel innovated gene tagging and isolated the first genes for two-component signaling in bacteria, laying the foundation for study of signaling mechanisms found throughout nature, including plants. With an NSF postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Wurtzel boldly changed fields from bacterial membrane biochemistry to plant biology, when maize was the only model system. She established some of the first experiments on plant chromatin structure as an NSF Plant Biology postdoctoral fellow at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She then joined Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and began research on maize carotenoid biosynthesis, then a poorly studied area. Dr. Wurtzel next joined the Biological Sciences Department at Lehman College, City University of New York, where she is currently a Full Professor and on the faculty of the CUNY Biology and Biochemistry PhD programs. Eleanore Wurtzel has made fundamental and longstanding contributions to the field of plant carotenoid biosynthesis, plant biochemistry, and plant metabolic engineering which are enabling improvement of crops for sustainable solutions to global vitamin A deficiency affecting the health and mortality of 250 million children worldwide. Dr. Wurtzel is grateful to the many students, postdocs, and visiting scientists who have contributed to her laboratory’s research for which she has been recognized as a Fellow of AAAS, Fellow of ASPB, and most recently as a Fellow of the International Carotenoid Society.  Dr. Wurtzel serves as a Monitoring Editor of Plant Physiology. Dr. Wurtzel has also been a long-standing elected member of the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) Board of Trustees. She has been instrumental at GRC in developing and contributing to programs for women in science. She also founded and chaired the first GRC on Plant Metabolic Engineering and founded the GRC seminar for early career scientists for both the GRC Plant Metabolic Engineering community and the GRC Carotenoids community.