Testimonials for Pioneer Member Larry Vanderhoef

Jim Tokuhisa – Dr. Vanderhoef was my mentor in 1978 at the University of Illinois-Urbana for an undergraduate research project that lasted only one academic year, but I am reminded of his “examples” almost daily, especially in this post-pandemic era. The project was to characterize high affinity binding of auxin in microsomal fractions from etiolated soybean hypocotyl, but I learned so much more than that. The experience built my scientific foundation for designing and conducting discovery research, seeking novel and interdisciplinary approaches such as applications of linear transducers, cataloging the primary literature with his needle card file, appreciating the history of plant hormone research, interacting with colleagues, and guiding me to my next great mentor, Peter Quail, who amplified and reinforced those essential core skills.

The memories of those times, even those that are cringe-worthy, make me smile as I recall, for instance, the weekend Dr. Vanderhoef brought his young son into the lab when I was working with C14-radiolabeled NAA. I was terrified that I might, through some accident, send his son home “glowing.” Or the time I confessed to blowing out the circuitry on the Beckman ultracentrifuge. Or the time I visited him at the University of Maryland and he pulled out and read my letter asking to work in his lab. Those personal and communal lab experiences were infused with his calm and mild, respectful and diplomatic manner that communicated his sincere passion and love of discovery research in the academic world.