Testimonials for Pioneer Member Heven Sze

C Robin Buell – Working in Heven’s lab as an undergraduate lab assistant was a defining moment in my career. She provided a dynamic, supportive, and encouraging environment for everyone in her lab, including me. Without this experience in which I saw and participated in plant physiology research, I doubt I would have gone to graduate school and become a researcher. Heven also taught me the excellent supervisory skills I use today with my undergraduate researchers. I can’t be more enthusiastic about Heven being recognized as a Pioneer of ASPB.

Daniel Bush – Heven Sze is the quintessential example of a scientist who uses the basic principles of inquiry as the guiding light for dissecting biological processes. She asks straight forward questions and addresses them by experiments that provide clear answers that become the foundation for the next series of experiments. In this way, she builds a foundation of understanding that illuminates basic principles in plant cell biology. Based on this approach, Heven has provided fundamental insight into many critical cellular processes in plants, including proton-pumping ATPases, calcium transporters and signaling, and potassium transport. In addition to her significant impact on biological understanding, she has mentored many young scientists, both graduate students and postdocs, that have gone on to make their own contributions to our understanding of plant biology. Heven is the epitome of an “ASPB Pioneer”!

Caren Chang – Heven has been one of the most influential individuals of my career. She chaired the search that led to my hiring at University of Maryland. From my very first interview, she showed generosity and kindness that has been ongoing for 27+ years. Her support has ranged from research advice, to mentoring, to bringing me soup and flowers when I’ve been sick. It goes without saying that she has been a great model scientist for me as well.

Elisabeth Gantt – Heven has been a dedicated and valuable professor in teaching and training superb plant biologists, and, personally to me, a much appreciated and important plant biology colleague.

Thomas Hodges – I met Heven while I was on sabbatical at the University of California, Davis in 1969. Heven was working toward her M. S. in Weed Science. I immediately recognized Heven had an unusual ability in science. I invited her to join my lab to pursue the PhD. I was in the process of developing methods for purifying the plasma membrane, and it was clear that Heven would be able to make contributions to this project. I am proud to participate in recognizing Heven for her outstanding contributions to our understanding of ion transport across cell membranes. She is a Pioneer!

Klaus H. Kaestner – I encountered Dr. Sze in 1984, when I was an exchange student at Univeristy of Maryland. I was supposed to stay for one year, and then return to Germany to finish my training as a high school teacher in biology and chemistry. Dr. Sze changed my life. Her enthusiasm for scientific research was infectious, and I changed my career completely, first obtaining a Master’s degree in her lab and publishing my first scientific articles, then embarking on an academic path thet led me to my current position as a Professor of genetics. Dr. Sze is an exceptional teacher and mentor, and I owe my career to her.

Xiyan Li – Dr. Heven Sze was my Ph.D. mentor. She dedicated herself to training the next generation plant scientists with rigor and pride. She always encouraged lab members to attend conferences to broaden the scope of their interests and establish their network. I am very grateful to her. The training I received in the Sze lab not only boosted my professional career, but it also has helped in other aspects of my personal life.

Zhongchi Liu – Dr. Heven Sze has mentored many woman plant biologists including myself. She is a great colleague, mentor, and friend.

Hua Lu – Heven is a leader of the plant community in the Mid-Atlantic region. She has always been a strong supporter of regional events that bring plant scientists together, and she cares deeply about the growth of junior faculty. Thank you Heven!

Katie Newman – As her first graduate student in 1979-1983, I remember long lunches with Heven, sitting on the grassy hill behind our lab in Snow Hall at the University of Kansas. We were excited to be considering Mitchell’s Chemiosmotic Hypothesis! But we also talked about less lofty topics, such as the importance of watching TV in order to be part of our culture. I was a reluctant graduate student, but Heven urged me on, saying an advanced degree “won’t hurt you”! And as usual, she was right. Through the years of our friendship I have learned and shared much with Heven — about science, cooking, relationships, healthful living, genealogy, academe, and more. She has been and always will be, a very important force in my life, and, I suspect, the lives of all her students and post docs. Even in her retirement she still enjoys contributing with rigor to plant science and synthesizing pieces of “big picture” issues.

Stephen Randall – Heven Sze’s contributions to plant biology go far beyond the projects she embarked upon. She is certainly a pioneer, having had a huge influence on the approaches and techniques in what was the emerging biochemical field of plant membrane transport. Heven not only led this field, but she also made sure she carried others along with her. She consistently kept in touch with other “transport” colleagues, sharing everything she could about her findings. From Heven, I learned to organize and structure my thoughts and experiments. To visualize possible research outcomes and discern how they could be immediately pursued, she would insist we outline an entire paper (well before most experiments were initiated) by sketching possible result figures and tables on a single sheet of paper, thereby seeing the big and small picture simultaneously. She always had time to discuss experimental results specifically, and science in general. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to determine in research is when to pull the plug on a particularly recalcitrant problem. I always strive to be as insightful as she is. I have never forgotten these lessons, and I have done my best to pass them on to my own students. While always running a rigorous lab with high expectations, there was always time for lab outings, picnics, and birthday celebrations. Heven cared deeply about the welfare of her students. While I will not describe examples pertaining to others, when she found out I was living out of my van because (having just finished my Ph.D. with all its expenses) I had insufficient funds for the first month’s rent, she insisted that I stay at her apartment until I had my first paycheck, I will always be very grateful, for everything.

Shunyuan Xiao – Dr. Heven Sze made significant contributions not only to our understanding of pollen biology but also to ASPB’s excellence in promoting plant biology by fostering collaborations and mentoring junior scientists. Her life-long dedication (which is still ongoing after her retirement) to plant biology and the ASPB community deserves respect and recognition.