Testimonials for Pioneer Member Gerry Fink

Bonnie Bartel – I will always be grateful to Gerry for getting me started in plant biology. He gave us remarkable freedom to develop projects and wonderful colleagues with whom to explore the “awesome power of genetics.”

Chip Celenza – My experience with Gerry Fink as my post-doc mentor prepared me well for my faculty position in terms of establishing my own research program. Gerry encouraged my intellectual curiosity to challenge conventional wisdom and not simply do an experiment because it was in vogue. Of course, as someone who has taught genetics for 27 years, I also picked up from Gerry that idea that there is no scientific problem than genetics cannot solve! Aside from the science, my time in the Fink lab demonstrated the importance of creating a collaborative group of researchers, a concept I emphasize with my own students. Thank you Gerry for these experiences (and for introducing me to the White Mountains).

Mary Gehring – It has been an honor to be Gerry’s colleague and lab neighbor. His wisdom, humor, and penetrating insight into biological problems are a gift to all who know him.

Paula Grisafi – I have known Gerry for 50 years and worked in his lab at Whitehead for 21 of them. It has been a privilege to know him and a pleasure to work with him. He taught me a great deal about critical thinking and made me a better researcher and scientist, for which I am truly grateful.

Kendal Hirschi – Gerry gave you freedom, time, excellent tools, and his opinions. Who could ask for anything more! I appreciate his professionalism and daily approach to science- not to mention his writing style. He provided a fantastic lifetime resource with the other plant scientists he trained; I still lean on them today. I miss the softball games and beer hours!

Jian Hua – Gerry calls himself an educator. He is truly an exceptional educator who inspires, educates and supports people.

Brian Keith – Gerry taught me the power and value of thinking from a purely genetic perspective, which had a profound impact on how I approach science and how I teach my students. I will always be grateful to him for his guidance, support, insight, creativity, and sense of humor. It was a privilege to work with him and the people in his lab.

Marc Learned – Although more than 30 years have passed since I had the opportunity to spend time in Gerry’s lab as a postdoc, I have been perpetually grateful for the mentorship Gerry provided during that time, both scientific and otherwise, and for the camaraderie of the exceptional individuals who were drawn to his laboratory. Gerry has a singular kind of scientific vision, one that calls for patience and the willingness to play a long, deep game, and one that he played fearlessly and deftly throughout his scientific career. I feel privileged to support efforts to recognize his pioneering contributions in plant biology.

Joseph C Polacco – I spent an academic year, 1989/90, in Gerry Fink’s lab at the Whitehead Institute. It was a science Shangri-lá: inhabited by talented folks who were superb and supportive colleagues. This was due in large part to Gerry’s influence. He made sure I interacted with each lab member before buckling down to a given project. In 1981, Gerry left Cornell after 15 productive years to join MIT/Whitehead at its founding. He was prescient. The Whitehead achieved astounding success; Gerry was part of it, and certainly a model for younger faculty colleagues, for those in his lab, and those early in their careers. In the lab, we easily transitioned between yeast and Arabidopsis, and this synergy led to seminal discoveries in both organisms, indeed, in two kingdoms. I feel a little silly writing this testimonial, as Gerry flat out deserves recognition as an ASPB Pioneer. Just one linkage between yeast and plants: elucidation of the synthesis and action of auxin in plants greatly benefited from the analyses of tryptophan biosynthesis in yeast. Gerry’s prior tenure at Cornell gave him a perspective and deep appreciation of plant breeding, genetics, and chromatin structure.