Testimonials for Pioneer Member John Harada

Robert L. Fischer – John Harada has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of molecular aspects of seed development. One breakthrough was his studies on the LEAFY COTYLEDONT (LEC) genes in Arabidopsis. He cloned these genes and determined they encode CCAAT-box-like and B3-domation transcription factors that are essential for regulating vital seed-specific developmental programs – seed storage protein and oil synthesis, as well as seed maturation and dessication tolerance. Indeed, the LEC genes are responsible for producing the protein and oil used directly for human nutrition and indirectly when seeds are used as feed for agricultural animals. John pivoted from studying individual genes to studying the genomics of soybean seed development. His studies revealed temporal patterns of genetic regulation for genes in all seed compartments. He also identified the downstream genes regulated by LEC transcription factors and elucidated specific genetic pathways vital for seed development. These data constitute a monumental achievement that will be used by plant scientists for many years to understand how seed development is regulated, and how seed productivity can be improved. The Importance and quality of Harada’s work is reflected by his recognition as a AAAS and ASPB Fellow. He is also an outstanding teacher; he once told me, “teaching is the most important thing I do, because it amplifies what can be accomplished in the short time I have to be a scientist.” Based on his deep understanding of plant biology and his dedication to teaching, he received a Distinguished Teaching Award as one of the most outstanding teachers at UC Davis. I am pleased to support John Harada as a Pioneer of ASPB.

Tamar Lotan – John is a great scientist, teacher and mentor. I was fortunate to have a postdoctoral position in John’s lab in 1995-1998, during which time I learned so much. In his much appreciated kind and respectful attitude, he taught me that it is not enough to find embryos developing from a leaf (lec1); I also need to prove molecularly what I see (Cell 93:1195-1205, 1998). To me, this has been a lesson for life. I also learned from him how to present my findings and moreover how much time and effort a PI should invest in his students. Having returned to academia from other ventures, I believe that today I am a better PI and a department head because of him. Thank you very much John!

Tom Okita – It is a pleasure to support John’s nomination as an ASPB Pioneer. He epitomizes the very best in research, teaching and service. He is an outstanding scientist who emphasizes research at the highest quality. He is a passionate teacher who inspires those at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels. Lastly, he tirelessly and unselfishly provides time to serve his university and ASPB. He is great colleague and friend who I can always count on for sound advice.