Pioneer Member

C. Robertson McClung


Katie Amato
Mark Estelle
Julia Frugoli
Diane Gilbert-Diamond
Katie Greenham
Todd Michael
Patrice Salome
Ryan Sartor
G. Eric Schaller
David Somers
Cynthia Taub (AKA Qing Ye)
Qiguang Xie
Xiaodong Xu
Amy Zanne
Haihong Zhong

Katie Amato – Rob was the first research mentor I ever had. He was willing to host me in his lab as an undergraduate researcher, and my experience there played a big role in shaping my path toward a career in research and academia. I still take many of the lessons I learned from Rob and try to apply them in my own work and lab group. One of the first things I remember him telling me (as a nervous undergraduate interviewing with him for the Women in Science Program at Dartmouth) was that no matter what you are studying, there are days that you will hate it and hate science, but if you are working with people that you get along with, it makes all the difference in helping you get through it. I used that advice immediately and asked to join his research group. I have used it ever since, and I repeat it to every student that comes through my lab and hopes to continue in research.

Rob did a wonderful job making the lab a friendly place to be. He paired me with a postdoc that was equally concerned about my well-being as he was about teaching me science, and he met with me regularly despite the fact that I was just an undergraduate. He also filled the lab with other positive, smart people, and I saw the lab as a welcoming place even during my most stressful weeks in college. Rob demonstrated how you could have a high standard for good science and hard work but also value things and people outside of the lab. He had wonderful parties at his home that would make me feel ‘at home’ even when I was pretty far from my family home, and hearing about his hockey games and gardening exploits were highlights of our interactions, along with the friendly teasing we all engaged in.

The skills I learned in Rob’s lab had a direct beneficial impact on me even beyond my undergraduate training. He taught me how to design a good experiment, ensure strong results, and write up my work effectively. The skills in DNA extraction, PCR, and sequence data analysis I learned in the lab also became vital as I moved into microbiome analysis in graduate school. It was easy for me to jump into a new microbiome field later because I knew how to do most of the lab work already from Rob’s lab. I was so excited when I was told what skills I would need to learn — I already had them!

Rob is a treasured mentor, colleague, and friend. I feel lucky to have had someone so supportive of me so early on in my career, and I feel even luckier to continue to have him as a presence in my life. Even after leaving his lab, I have always felt welcome and like I am part of the community. I look forward to drinks when our paths cross and holiday letters when they don’t. My only regret with not continuing in plant biology, specifically, is that I don’t get to see Rob as often as I would otherwise.

Julia Frugoli – Rob was my PhD advisor. As a woman going through a divorce with three children while trying to earn her doctorate (in the 1990s), his support and encouragement were critical to my career. Life only got more complicated as I progressed, but Rob stuck with me and I earned my PhD with two papers and a good postdoctoral placement. He continued to write letters for me, read grant applications as a favor, and socialize at every ASPB meeting. A long time has passed since I was in his lab, but as an Endowed Professor at an R01 university, I understand how critical his early support was to me as a scientist, a woman and a mother and I try to pass it forward. My time in his lab taught me to think about the paper as I was doing the experiments-where was I going with the investigation? What would the reviewer ask for?- rather than sitting on a pile of experiments done over the years and trying to figure out how to publish them. Thank you Rob

Diane Gilbert-Diamond – Rob helped me gain confidence in my ability to think critically and conduct scientific studies when I was an undergrad in his lab. He showed incredible kindness, patience, and humor when I made my many mistakes. Rob created such a fun and welcoming environment that I felt so happy doing experiments alongside the other undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs in his lab. I believe that I wouldn’t have gone into a career in science if it weren’t for my formative experiences in Rob’s lab. I am incredibly grateful to him!

Katie Greenham – I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to have completed my postdoctoral work under the guidance of Rob McClung. I can’t think of a better person to usher me into the circadian clock field, where his vast knowledge and remarkable memory were tremendous resources. More than his scientific acumen, what sets Rob apart is his unwavering commitment to intellectual integrity and scientific rigor. His approach to hypothesis-driven research has profoundly shaped my own methodologies. He consistently encouraged me to engage deeply with the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of our work, fostering in me a more thoughtful and analytical approach to science. Rob’s passion for science is infectious, and this is most evident in his role as a mentor and teacher. His influence extends beyond his lab; with his continued dedication to ASPB, where he has served in numerous capacities including President from 2007 to 2008. This service underscores his tireless dedication to science as well as his undeniable contribution to the broader scientific community. Perhaps the most memorable and enjoyable part of working with Rob, even at the cost of immediate productivity, was his storytelling. His narratives, rich with wisdom and humor, added an unforgettable dimension to my research and learning, making it not just academically enriching but personally fulfilling as well.

Todd P. Michael – Rob impacted so many lives in plant biology through his scholarship, mentorship, service, and active leadership in the ASPB. Specifically, Rob served the plant biology committee as the President of ASBP from 2007-2008 and Chair of the ASPB board of trustees between 2014-2017. In addition, Rob served on multiple ASPB committees and was named a ASPB Fellow in 2009. As a graduate student in Rob’s lab, I know first-hand his passion to teach, mentor and grapple with the complexities of biology. Rob always asks the best questions in seminars, stimulates rigorous conversation at parties and writes arguably some of the best prose on the plant circadian clock. Thanks, Rob, for your dedication to the community.

Patrice Salome – Although I did not know it at the time, Rob gave me the freedom to explore just about anything I thought of. He also taught me scientific rigor and critical thinking, which I apply to my job every day. I would not be where I am today without Rob; I am not saying that I am content with where I ended up, but it would have been very different without his influence; likely for the worse.

Ryan Sartor – Rob has made numerous significant contributions to the field of circadian biology and has continued to push innovative research throughout his career. Anyone lucky enough to train under him can tell you that he is also a great person and fantastic mentor.

David Somers – I first met Rob in 1995, soon after I entered the field of plant circadian rhythms. Since then my interactions with him have always been incredibly welcoming, engaging and open, both in science conversations and life discussions in general. One could hardly ask for a better colleague to travel together for nearly 30 years in what was the exciting new field of the plant circadian clock. His contributions to the body of plant clock research have been fundamental and have helped set some new directions for where the field is currently moving. Rob’s research work and his overall contributions to plant biology clearly warrant recognition as an ASPB Pioneer.

Cynthia Taub (AKA: Qing Ye) – The greatest teachers believe in you before you know how to believe in yourself. Professor McClung exemplifies this philosophy in his mentorship of students. I was a graduate student from China in the early 1990’s, with low self-esteem and lack of clarity in career direction. Rotating and eventually completing my thesis in the McClung lab was a pivotal period of my academic journey. I am profoundly grateful for the transformative influence that Professor McClung has had on my career. His commitment to excellence, passion for teaching and mentoring, and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping my approach to challenges and opportunities in the academic world.

Qiguang Xie – Rob was not only an excellent scholar, but also a great mentor with both wisdom and humor, and I miss the Zeitgeber time I spent working in his lab, and his guidance was crucial to my subsequent research and life.

Xiaodong Xu – Rob, I was honored to join your lab as a postdoc from 2006 to 2010. You were humble enough to give us postdocs a first oral presentation and ask for advice at the lab meeting before each business trip. You were friendly to peers and I was fortunate to be involved in the collaborative projects. On the eve of setting up my own lab, you reminded me how to mentor graduate students through their studies. You were an active scientist at ASPB and had a deep impact on my contribution to the Chinese Society of Biological Rhythms when I returned to China.

Amy Zanne – Rob McClung was my undergraduate thesis advisor and very first scientific mentor. He was the one who taught me the joys of studying plants, giving me a greenhouse refuge in the middle of cold Hanover winters. I learned the delights and agonies of advancing scientific questions in his lab as we rode the roller coaster of discovery together. The crashed cuvette, the ecotypes, the uncleaned slot blotter are all now fond memories. Rob also created the opportunity for my first post undergraduate job, setting up the teaching labs at Dartmouth. There I found a community of friends, colleagues and mentors, leading ultimately to a support network as I applied for graduate school. Rob opened some of the very earliest doors for me to be the scientist I am today. Thank you Rob!

Haihong Zhong – Rob is a passionate scientist and has made a great contribution to the plant molecular biology field. My interest in scientific research is inseparable from my research experience in Rob’s laboratory. It is also crucial for the success in my career. As his first graduate student from China, he helped me a lot in all aspects. I am grateful to his constant and generous guidance and support.