Martin Gibbs Medal

The Martin Gibbs Medal was instituted by the Society’s executive committee in 1993 to honor Martin Gibbs, editor of Plant Physiology from 1963 to 1992. The Gibbs Medal is presented biennially to an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences. The winner will receive the medal and will be invited to convene a Martin Gibbs Medal Symposium at the annual meeting the following year.

2023 Winner: Xuemei Chen

Xuemei Chen is awarded the 2023 Martin Gibbs Medal for her pioneering contributions to plant RNA biology which transcend the plant field, informing current thinking about RNA biogenesis, modification and metabolism, and regulation of microRNAs (miRNAs). After receiving her PhD in Biochemistry from Cornell University, Xuemei spent 4 years as a postdoc in the lab of Elliot Meyerowitz at the California Institute of Technology before accepting her first faculty position as Assistant Professor in the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University. She joined UC Riverside as Associate Professor in 2005, becoming Distinguished Professor in 2013, Director of the Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics graduate program from 2018-2021, and Interim Director of the Institute of Integrative Genome Biology 2021-22. She was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator from 2011-2018. Xuemei is an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was the 2006 recipient of the Charles Albert Shull Award from ASPB. During her work as a postdoc, Xuemei discovered the methyltransferase that modifies the 3´-terminal ribose in miRNAs and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), shedding light on the mechanisms of small RNA biogenesis and degradation, and illustrating the similarities in RNA turnover between plants and animals. She then revealed the crucial roles of miRNAs in floral patterning and development, probed the partitioning of small RNAs within the cell, and in 2013 authored a breakthrough paper showing how miRNAs repress translation in plants. Further studies from her lab have cemented her impact in the RNA field; this work includes elucidating genetic and epigenetic requirements for Pol IV transcription in the context of RNA silencing, analyzing NAD+-capped RNAs, and providing important insights into the mechanisms of RNA-directed DNA methylation and of miRNA mobility. The Martin Gibbs Medal honors “an individual who has pioneered advances that have served to establish new directions of investigation in the plant sciences”. Xuemei’s work shows a high degree of creativity, and she is a world leader in laying the foundations for plant RNA biology.

Richard Dixon, Chair (2018-2023)
Jeff Dangl, Past Winner (2022-2023)
Nicholas Carpita (2023-2025)
Venkatesan Sundaresan (2023-2025)
Sylvia Lee, Staff Liaison