Testimonials for Pioneer Member Elliot Meyerowitz

Michael Frohlich – Elliot Meyerowitz is a giant! It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of the ABC model for explaining the control of flower organ identity, and for showing how developmental genetics should be done in plants, which made plant evo-devo possible. He helped launch the careers of many people. Visiting Elliot’s lab changed my life, and I am immensely grateful for that experience.

Justin Goodrich – Elliot has been highly supportive and was a big help in me obtaining my first position via a research fellowship, and he has continued to be very helpful and available throughout my career. Working in his lab, and meeting all his terrific team, was a wonderful experience and provided me with valuable colleagues and future colllaborations that have been a big help.

Jian Hua – Elliot creates a lab environment where everybody is inspired, motivated and supported to conduct exciting research in a vigorous and innovative way.

Steve Jacobsen – Elliot has not only made pioneering contributions to plant science, but also the training of many in the field of plant molecular biology. Elliot really shaped me as a scientist, and I have modeled much of my lab structure, lab meetings, and advising methods on Elliot’s example. His empowering mentoring style has molded the careers of many plant biologists around the world.

Prakash P. Kumar – Elliot Meyerowitz is a perfect example of a Pioneer as defined, namely, as an individual who provided the education and research training for many members of our community, and in several cases the leadership of ASPB and its journals. His pioneering work on the MADS box genes and floral homeotic genes has stood the test of time, and it represented the opening up of a brand new area of plant developmental biology. His lab trained a countless number of leaders in this field. Several of his lab alumni have become members of the National Academy of Science USA, and are accomplished scientists based on many other yardsticks.

Hong Ma – Elliot’s generous guidance was crucial for my career in plant molecular biology, particularly in understanding molecular genetic mechanisms underlying plant reproductive development. Elliot provided a stimulating and nurturing environment for post-doctoral fellows and graduate students and encouraged them to pursue independent scientific careers.

Toshiro Ito – From 1997 until 2005, I had the honor of being one of Elliot’s postdocs. I am extremely grateful to Elliot for his great mentorship. His leadership, knowledge, philosophy and personality are always the best archetypes for me. “Things do always work out” Elliot once kindly wrote to me, when I reported on a series of troubles in my own new lab set-up. Actually these are magic words. When something wrong happens, I always repeat his words. Then, I can realize a future when the trouble is over.

Adrienne Roeder – Elliot taught me many of the principles for how to do science that I strive to follow today: Skip the boring experiments and only do the interesting ones. A review should have a point of view. Keep your eye on emerging technologies and figure out how they can help you answer your question. Slides can be used to inform or to impress.

Robert Sablowski – Elliot created an environment that for many years has enabled and stimulated bold and original thinking backed by intense effort. Somehow, it also felt relaxed. Elliot has always been supportive towards his alumni, even when critical. The result has been a large community of scientists that continue to propagate Elliot’s mark on the field of plant development and beyond.

Hajime Sakai – The contributions of Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz to science cannot be summarized in a short paragraph, and I am not the most appropriate person to do so. However, as a scientist fascinated by the diversity of living organisms, I would like to note that Dr. Meyerowitz was and still is a pioneer who discovered and explained the complexity of plant development that results from the elegant interaction of multiple genes. His ABC and subsequent models of flower development are still among the most beautiful accomplishments in plant science, even after 30 years. His legacy continues through the many scientists who were introduced in his lab to the power of mutants and genetics. Personally, I was extremely fortunate to be one of his postdocs during the early phase of his plant research. The excitement I gained at that time is still driving me in my current position in a startup company to explore research opportunities to help feed the world and save our environment.

Arun Sampathkumar – Elliot is an inspiration to many scientists around the world, and it is fortunate that I got to spend time in his lab and got to know him. I am sure many would agree that the experience we gained in his lab equipped us not just with the ability to do research at the highest level but also to become good mentors. The freedom that he gave us to explore different research topics was crucial for allowing me to establish my own career. Personally, he was always supportive, patient and took care of other issues, so that we could focus on the job at hand. Now, as a collaborator he encourages me to address questions that are ambitious, strive toward creating new fields in science, and help our peers succeed. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Thank you, Elliot.

Usha Vijayraghavan – Elliot Meyerowitz was the mentor for my postdoctoral and mentor through my career as a plant biology faculty member in India. My time at Elliot’s lab during the vibrant early pioneering days when his team made discoveries of floral meristem and organ patterning regulators remains the high point of my scientific training. In fact, his ability to identify major questions in development and evolution, his tenacity to delve deep into plant biology is inspirational. My foray into plant biology, coming from graduate training in yeast genetics, was entirely influenced by the path breaking discoveries on floral organ ABC regulators done in his laboratory. Elliot enthusiastically supported my decision to move back to India and take up my independent position, and he graciously hosted me for three month summer visits during the first four years as a Lecturer at the Indian Institute of Science. During these stints in the early days of my career, lessons I acquired on the work being done on Arabidopsis floral meristem development by his group, the time and input from Elliot and many of his lab members on the ideas I was pursuing with funding from Rockefeller Foundation helped me make the transition to rice developmental biology. His uncompromising high standards regarding the importance of the questions being investigated and the methodology and data interpretation guided me and continue to motivate me. Elliot’s greatest quality is how lightly he considers his past accomplishments, remaining continuously inquisitive for new idea, such as discoveries on stem cell homeostasis, mechanical forces in plant development and modeling. These are important attributes of pioneering thinking. His generosity to people from other cultures, inquisitiveness about food and culture, and the many Indian, Turkish, Greek, Japanese, Chinese pot luck dinners and “wine and liquor tasting sessions” allowed for fun spaces to learn. Elliot Meyerowitz richly deserves recognitionas as a Pioneer of ASPB.

Doris Wagner – Thank you for your mentorship and support and for shaping the field of plant development.

Detlef Weigel – I like to quote from a Current Biology Q&A published in 2007: “Arguably, the best advice I ever received was from my postdoctoral mentor Elliot Meyerowitz. The Salk Institute had made me an offer to become an Assistant Professor, and I was convinced that this was the place where I wanted to be; but I was wary about the offer letter, which contained few details beyond a general statement that the institute would ensure a successful start to my lab. When I discussed this with Elliot, his answer was common sense and simple: ‘Well, do you think you can trust them? If you can, don’t worry about it. And if you can’t, it won’t matter what they put on a piece of paper anyway.'” This is exactly the sort of no-nonsense advice one can expect from Elliot, and what he has taught me, both in terms of his approach to science but also how to interact with other scientists, has been essential to the success of my own lab.

Hao Yu – My postdoctoral training in Elliot’s lab considerably changed my life. In addition to knowledge, the academic environment he created and the way he treats his lab members fundamentally influenced my career. The freedom for pursuing science and an open mind for embracing change and the unknown have become the core values of my lab.

Yuanxiang Zhao –  Twenty years ago I joined Elliot’s lab after completing my PhD thesis research on mouse Hox genes. During the two years of postdoctoral experience in Elliot’s lab, I learned a lot (I knew very little about plant genetics to begin with) and enjoyed every bit of the research work I carried out there. Though I eventually transitioned back to studying mammalian cells (due to circumstances), I am grateful to Elliot for that learning experience. For many years I have taught a Stem Cell Biology undergraduate course and always included a couple of lectures on plant stem cell development, a topic that is refreshing to me and many of my students as well.