Pioneer Member

Nicholas Carpita


Alan Darvill
Deborah Delmer
Bethany Elkington
Michael Held
Thomas Hodges
Naim Iraki
Anita Klein
Karen Koch & Don McCarty
Rachel Mertz
Debra Mohnen
Anna Olek
Maria Peña
Catherine Rayon
Breeanna Urbanowicz
Claudia Vergara
Richard Vierstra
Tamara Western
Sarah Wyatt

Bethany Elkington – I worked in Nick’s lab as an undergraduate student. After working in many other labs through a PhD and postdoc, I have come to truly appreciate how approachable and helpful Nick is for learning about plant biology. Nick has continued to be a helpful resource for the many years since leaving his lab. Many thanks Nick!

Thomas Hodges – Nick approached me at an ASPB annual meeting while he was still a graduate student, and we had an in-depth discussion about his Ph.D. research. I was impressed with his knowledge and his ability to explain his research in a clear and concise manner. as well as his confidence and enthusiasm for science. While Nick was doing his post doctoral research with Debbie Delmer at Michigan State and I was Head of the Botany and Plant Pathology Department at Purdue, he applied for a faculty position in our department. We were fortunate that he accepted our offer, as he proceeded to become a world expert on cell wall structure and function. His achievements were recognized by the membership of ASPB when they elected him President of the Society. Nick has many interests outside of science, and one that I have especially enjoyed on many occasions is that he is an excellent chef. Nick, is a real Pioneer of ASPB!

Rachel Mertz – Nick Carpita is a superlative mentor and advocate for his students, and it would be impossible to overstate the magnitude of his impact on my career development. From the moment Nick welcomed me into his lab my freshman year at Purdue, the discovery and characterization of plant cell wall mutants became the focus that defined my entire academic career. The drive for discovery, meticulous attention to detail, structured process, and poised communication that he embodied and instilled were foundational to my scientific development and paved the path to a profoundly fulfilling career. Over the ensuing fifteen years, he has beem an invaluable mentor, advocate, and collaborator on successive projects and his lab was an intellectual home to which I eagerly returned each time I developed a new mutant that required its specialized infrastructure. Thank you, Nick; I couldn’t be more grateful for your guidance and support.

Debra Mohnen – Nick has been a continuous and ardent supporter of plant biology research and particularly plant cell wall research over the past 40 years. He has contributed numerous studies on plant cell wall biosynthesis and cell wall structure and function that impact areas across the agronomic and materials properties fields. Equally importantly, he has been a loud and effective spokesperson for the field of plant research and trained countless students and postdoctoral researchers who continue to drive the field forward. His energy and enthusiasm for the field are contagious and his impact far-reaching. Thank you Nick!

Anna Olek – Working with Nick literary changed my professional life and allowed me to develop a very satisfying and rewarding career in the field of plant biology. He was always a great mentor and supporter to those who worked with him. For close to 35 years I have had the opportunity to watch a number of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting scholars benefit from his guidance and mentorship while preparing for their future scientific careers. In addition, Nick worked with scores of undergraduate students, inspiring many of them to pursue careers in plant science.

Catherine Rayon – Nick Carpita offered me a post-doctoral position at Purdue University to work on the structure of the catalytic domain of a rice cellulose synthase. I discovered a new scientific field, the plant cell wall. Nick was a great mentor. He gave me freedom to explore my project and the confidence to go forward in my academic life. He has been and still is one of the most influential people who helped shape my scientific career. Thinking back, I believe this was the most stimulating scientific environment to which I was exposed in my career. Thank you Nick.

Richard Vierstra – Nick has been a long-term enthusiastic supporter of plant biology as well as a tireless supporter of the ASPB’s endeavors, including serving as its President. He worked tirelessly trying to understand the chemical nature of the plant cell wall, a legacy worthy of being recognized as a ‘Pioneer’ of ASPB.

Tamara Western – Nick had a strong influence on my career – not only due to his considerable scientific achievements and his great contributions to plant biology, but also through his work with ASPB. He is a warm and generous person, offering support to colleagues, especially those early in their career. I met him at a cell wall meeting when I was a relatively new faculty member, and he was friendly and encouraging. I talked to him about my interest in expanding my skills in chemical analysis. He didn’t just send me his protocols, he invited me to come to his lab with some samples, and he taught me how to complete a complex technique and interpret the results. I spent a couple weeks working with him at Purdue (for which he also arranged temporary on-campus housing), where I had the opportunity not only to learn multiple techniques, but also to interact with his lab group and colleagues. The knowledge of cell wall analysis and the field was far beyond the initial technique of interest, and I have since used that knowledge to teach students and aid colleagues myself.