Testimonials for Pioneer Member Hans Kende

Chris Somerville – Hans was an inspiring, wise, generous and funny colleague. I frequently think back to one day when I was walking down the hallway on the main floor and encountered Hans coming in the opposite direction waving a sheaf of papers over his head and beaming. In response to my query about what was going on, he said “I just had another paper rejected by Nature!” Falling into his trap, I asked “So why the smile?” To which he replied “Every time Nature declines one of my papers it turns into a citation classic.” He had a wicked sense of humor and was full of perspective and good advice about the ups and downs of a life in science. He also had a wonderful sense of community. When Shauna and I arrived at the PRL in 1982 to set up our labs, he immediately came to welcome us and to offer us anything we needed from his own lab. Subsequently, most of the other senior faculty arrived with similar offers, which I suspect was due to Hans making a pointed suggestion to them. Whatever the case, through that and many other similar gestures, the young scientists in the PRL felt strongly supported and enabled by the older faculty. More importantly perhaps, Hans was an encyclopedia of discoveries, problems and the personalities in plant biology. I discussed everything my lab worked on with him and gained invaluable perspective on topics such as what was likely to be important, what approaches had failed and countless observations of relevance that someone had observed and published. In the days before Google searches or even personal computers, that kind of knowledge was very enabling. I think of him as one of the people who was most influential in my development as a scientist.

Natasha Raikhel – Hans was the PRL’s director when I joined and worked at the Institute. He had become a good friend because of our mutual love of science, music and art. I learned a lot from Hans on how to be a pro-active leader, how not to let a situation escalate and how an institute thrives when there is a well-supported infrastructure, and researchers flourish because they are well supported. Hans was instrumental in the success of the PRL and had shown me first hand what is important and what is not. He was an excellent scientist, had a great and quite famous sense of humor and was a very smart and special human being. I have tremendous respect for Hans Kende and will always remember him.