Testimonials for Pioneer Member Hans Bohnert

Jane Dugas – There is not enough space on this page to write about the merits of Dr. Hans Bohnert. I worked with Dr. Bohnert as his Administrative Assistant for many years in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Arizona, until his transition to the University of Illinois. He was a fireball, working long hours on various projects, including manuscripts, grant proposals, journal reviews, and teaching, while mentoring a large laboratory full of eager-to-learn undergraduate students, graduate students and visitors from many disciplines. This merely reflects a snippet of his dedication to science, especially in the field of plant stress tolerance research. Kudos to Professor Bohnert; it was a formidable experience working with him. God bless.

Qingqui Gong – Dr. Hans Bohnert, or Professor, as I called him, was my PhD mentor at the University of Illinois. He generously encouraged me to explore a completely new research field and did his best to support my pursuit. His love for science was beaming and he made me believe that the world would definitely be a better place with our understanding of the nature and with the power of biotechnology. He worked busily from the early morning to the evening; 7 days a week, only went home to cut the lawn on Sunday afternoons. Yet he was always enthusiastically available when we wanted to discuss our progresses and problems. He always invited his peer scientists, the great minds in plant physiology, to visit our lab and talk with us individually after seminars. At that time, I was too young and too foolish to fully appreciate what he had done for us. Only when I became a principle investigator a few years later did I start to realize that how deliberately I had been trained to be a PI. Only when I lectured a hall of attentive freshmen did I see how much influence he had on me to be a great teacher. Indeed, how we teach is what we teach. Now I have been a PI for 12 years. Many of my students have chosen a life in science, and several of them have become PIs. Whenever they tell me how I had kindled their passion for science and how they appreciate what I have done for them, I would smile and think of Professor.

Wolfgang Löffelhardt – I met Hans Bohnert in 1979 during the early days of chloroplast molecular biology. We decided to start a collaboration on the genome of the enigmatic, peptidoglycan-surrounded plastids of the glaucophyte alga, Cyanophora paradoxa. Numerous visits to Düsseldorf, Cologne, then very frequently to Tucson (AZ) and finally to Urbana (IL) followed, where I strongly profited from Hans’ expertise and research drive. Our contributions in more than 30 joint papers were the foundation of the present status of Cyanophora in plastid evolution from endosymbiotic cyanobacteria: landmarks include the complete plastid (cyanelle) genome sequence, insights into the primordial protein import apparatus of cyanelles, the establishment of the first EST library of Cyanophora used to demonstrate the monophyly of the primary plastids of the Archaeplastida, evidence for an inorganic carbon concentrating mechanism in Cyanophora, etc. In summary, my scientific career with the highlight of the “Miescher-Ishida-Prize” of the International Society of Endocytobiology in 2013 would not have happened without the help and encouragement of Dr. Bohnert.

Dong-Ha Oh – When I first came to the U.S. and met Hans, I was a gloomy visiting scholar with a nominal Ph.D., but without knowing what to do with my life. Hans was the one who showed me how to do science in a more critical way, and in a world slightly larger than just doing minipreps, gel-running, and growing (and killing) plants on Petri dishes. Patiently, he allowed me to struggle and explore for years. After finally publishing my first full paper under his guidance, I felt for the first time I was contributing a bit of an original idea to the scientific community. Hans showed me the emerging field of genomics. I still remember one afternoon Hans told us (me and another post-doc) about RNA and genome sequencing over glasses of wine – it was just years before his retirement, but he was still beaming with infectious excitement that overwhelmed me. That afternoon eventually led to the sequencing and chromosome-level assembly of the first two Arabidopsis-relative “extremophyte” species. Hans, with energy and vision, led us through the projects, but he wanted us to take the maximum credit possible. I would like to say, if I may, Hans is my scientific father. I strongly feel he is a pioneer and worth recognition for his achievement as a scientist and teacher.