Testimonials for Pioneer Member Frederick Ausubel

Colo Danna – After many years of working with Fred, I came to believe that his exceptional generosity makes him non-human…. a kind of fictional character, perhaps a movie hero. Regardless of whether it was about science or personal matters, he was and still is available. Sometimes, the line of people in front of his office waiting to meet him was so long that many of us thought of naming Fred “The Oracle”, the fictional character from The Matrix who had answers and advice for anything you needed. I am sure we abused his patience many times. I remember once sharing the bathroom in MGH-Simches 7th floor, washing hands, Fred could not get a laser-activated faucet to engage; I looked at him and said “you are invisible”, to which he replied, “many times I wish I was”, and I suspect he was not quite joking. Fred totally deserves the ASPB Pioneer Legacy recognition.

Xinnian Dong – For his pioneering work in developing Arabidopsis thaliana as a reference organism for molecular genetic and genomic study of plant functions.

Maureen Hanson: In addition to his abundant research accomplishments, Fred’s legacy includes the many lab members whom he supported financially, psychologically, and scientifically, and who then went on to have rewarding careers.

Fumiaki Katagiri – When I joined Fred’s lab in 1991 as a postdoc, it was shocking for me to realize Fred did not direct his people very much. I was more than puzzled as I had never seen or heard of such a way of operating a research group. Later, I realized that he had been patiently nurturing and waiting for each of us to develop into a truly independent researcher, not just independently running experiments but also independently planning and developing projects. This training helped me a lot when I started my own research groups – three times. In addition, Fred is very supportive of his former people in many ways. I cannot imagine where I would be now without Fred’s support during and after the time I was in his lab. Many thanks Fred!

Nicole Liberati-Moore – Fred, thank you for both your mentorship and friendship over the years. You’ve taught me to remain curious and think outside the box. And more importantly, you’ve taught me the importance of bringing people together. Oh, the power of haikus!

Eleftherios Mylonakis – From plant biology, to innate immunology, to microbiology, to infectious diseases and drug discovery, Fred has transformed a number of fields. Fred’s ability to conceive big ideas and motivate his team place him in the Pantheon of the greatest minds of the modern era. Fred has had a lasting impact in the lives of his students, trainees, colleagues, and collaborators and made discoveries that inspired the scientific discoveries of scientists around the world. Being able to consider Fred as my mentor, colleague, and friend has been one of the great joys in my life.

Venkatesan Sundaresan – Fred Ausubel is being rightly recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to plant biology. But beyond that, Fred has been an inspiration and role model for generations of plant biologists who were trained in his lab (including myself) through his low key but brilliantly effective mentorship. He created a uniquely exciting intellectual environment through his keen insight and ability to spot key scientific questions in a research area, combined with a hands-off approach that gave virtually unlimited creative freedom to his students and postdocs. All of this was managed with an unflappable temperament. He allowed us to take risks that could fail, and his genuine concern and unfailing generosity towards all whom he mentored was shared even with short term visitors. Thank you Fred for everything you have done for the field and for those of us fortunate enough to have been trained in your lab.

Sigrid M. Volko – I will be forever thankful for Fred’s mentorship and support. Fred took a chance on me as a foreign graduate student without financial support and allowed me to join his scientific team. These were some amazing years I spent in Boston. Through Fred’s support, I was able to find my footing in this country. While I am not working at the lab bench anymore, the skills I learned in Fred’s lab and the rigorous scientific thinking served me well in all my endeavors. Thank you, Fred!