Testimonials for Pioneer Member William Lucas

Jieyu Chen – One of the best decisions I made during my research life was being a member of Bill’s group. The knowledge, experience, wisdom, encouragement, and networking opportunities that I got from Bill are invaluable! The postdoc opportunity in Bill’s lab has been an asset and very instrumental for growing my professional career. Bill not only helped me find how I could integrate my research skills for a better understanding of plant biology, but he also taught me grant proposal writing and other skill sets necessary for a transition into the role as principal investigator. My postdoctoral training in Bill’s lab helped me gain self-confidence during my stay in the US. Bill was there for me every step of the way, helping me fulfil my long-term career goal of becoming an independent researcher. This experience contributed to my professional development by giving me insight into aspects of marketing myself. It also helped me develop relationships with other professionals and expand that network. So far, my experience has been amazing. I moved to Canada and work as a research associate there, Bill still takes time from his busy schedule to help me progress professionally. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and knowledge I received. As a result of his training and education, I feel ready for the next chapter of my career. Last but not least, Bill had a positive impact on my life. His precise research approach and strictness about scientific ethics were very impactful to my future in plant biology, and they will always keep me on the right track. As a beginning researcher, I found his advice very valuable regarding how to run my own lab one day. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with this experience and more appreciated to his help.

Xiao Han – Bill supervised my doctoral thesis, guided me into the research field of plant intercellular signaling. He made innovative discoveries on the regulation of auxin transport by plasmodesmata. He always encouraged me to be smart, especially to be aggressive as a scientific researcher, and this has determined the path of my life. There is an old Chinese proverb saying that one day is my teacher and all my life is a father. He has been my dearest and lovely person on the road of plant physiology.

Byung-Kook Ham  – Dr. William J. Lucas has been a great plant biologist and mentor throughout his entire career. He is one of the pioneering researchers in the field of plant vascular-mediated non-cell-autonomous communication. He impacted the careers of many plant biologists who worked with him and became impressed and fascinated during many outstanding discussion sessions. I consider myself the luckiest person, because I had the privilege to spend an amazing time with him at UC-Davis. I deeply appreciate Dr. Lucas not only for helping advance my research career, but also for being my mentor and showing me how my life should go in the future.

Sanwen Huang – Professor Lucas is a pioneer in the study of plant biology, and he is also a great colleague, always willing to help.

Fritz Kragler – I am honored to be part of the group supporting Bill’s ASPB Pioneer recognition. Bill is unquestionably a pioneering plant biologist who inspired generations of plant scientists. His profound understanding of plant physiology, dedication to scientific roles as a board member, editor, and advisor, and his openness to new concepts not only inspired me but also many colleagues. His groundbreaking work on protein and RNA transport between cells and tissues via plasmodesmata and phloem will continue to impact our understanding of how plants coordinate development and growth for many years to come. I remember when we discussed one paragraph in a review we wrote together, sitting in a dark seminar room on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We disagreed on some specific points and went on going through all the evidence again and again for four hours. We finally – after a quite lively and insightful debate – converged on a mutual text. This, and many more precious interactions I had with Bill, together with the experience I gained by working in his lab as a postdoc, was invaluable to my future path as scientist. Bill will always be a great friend and inspiring mentor for me.

Francis Lichtner – I first met Bill Lucas through work with my mentor and major professor, Roger Spanswick. After leaving Cornell University with a PhD in Plant Physiology, I joined UC Davis as a plant physiologist and worked for several years with Bill. He was very well-known by that time, and worked with many undergraduates, graduate students and visiting professors. After leaving UC Davis, I joined DuPont Crop Protection, but continued to visit Bill at Davis. I watched him at UCD, and I learned how to motivate people who I encountered and suggested paths to best use their future positions and roles.

Tetsuro Mimura – In 1966, Professor Lucas’ lab was the first place I did research abroad in my career, and although my stay there was short (about 3 months), the experience there undoubtedly was a major influence on my subsequent long career as a plant physiologist. Bill and his colleagues were very kind to me as a new post doc from Japan, not only for my research, but also for the many accommodations they made to ease my anxiety. Since then, I have had many opportunities to meet Bill, both in Japan and in other countries. I am very happy for Bill to be recognized as a Pioneer by the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Roberto Ruiz-Medrano – I was a postdoctoral fellow with Professorl Lucas from 1997 to 1999 at the University of California, Davis. I first met Bill when he was invited to give a talk during a course on Plant Biology in 1995 at CINVESTAV-IPN, Irapuato, Mexico, where I was a Ph.D. student. I was fascinated by his talk in which he described his research on intercellular communication in plants through plasmodesmata. For me, this opened a new perspective on plant biology, and so I contacted him and was eventually accepted as a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory. We showed that messenger RNAs move long-distance through the phloem, and some of them function as signaling agents. Other groups subsequently found several different signaling RNA species, including small RNAs, that are transported long distances, even between tissue grafts.On a personal level, Lucas visited Mexico in 1999 to ensure that my wife, Beatriz Xoconostle-Cázares, and I were hired in CINVESTAV, and that we had the minimum resources necessary to support our independent research programs. We continued collaborating with Professor Lucas for many years, and we spent a sabbatical in his laboratory from 2006 to 2007. In all, I can say that he greatly influenced my career, for which I am deeply grateful. I consider him one of the best teachers I ever had.

Jinjing Sun – I found Bill to be a nice tutor and a kind friend. He helped me a lot, and I would like to show my appreciation here. When I was a PhD student at Peking University, I had the opportunity to listen to Bill’s presentation describing his work on pumpkin. It was easy to tell that he loved science from his expression, and I started to think it might be not too hard for me to focus on cucumber. Then, I started work at the Chinese Academy of Arts and Sciences, where I had more opportunities to talk to him in person. He is a very patient teacher, not only about scientific work, but also about love of life. Each time we talked about scientific progress, he asked how I was feeling and whether or not I was stressed. Bill is always so positive and inspiring. He gave me the courage to go on when I felt overwhelmed by everything that happened in life and work during the first years when I started to be a teacher. Today, when I deal with the problems of preparing manuscripts, Bill is always the first one I ask for suggestions, and he always gives solutions that I can follow. He helped me to be a better researcher and a happier person.

Xueyong Yang – Prof. William J. Lucas is an excellent scientist, a good friend and an important mentor. Following decades of devout research, he has focused on revealing the evolution and function of plasmodesmata, as well as the role of the plant vascular system. Because of the distinctive vascular bundle structure, Cucurbitaceae crops are ideal for researching plant system signaling and intercellular communication. For this reason, I am lucky to collaborate with Bill in the field of functional genomics in cucurbit crops. Bill has been extremely helpful in data analysis, paper drafting, and editorial communication.

Beatriz Xoconostle-Cazares – I was honored to have a postdoctoral position with Professor Bill, who with great patience taught me discipline to work, propose hypotheses, develop experimental designs, and carry out high-quality science. However, this is not all that he taught me; he also showed me the way to form an academic family, where one’s students and postdocs work as a team. Every week we held think tanks, where we discussed experimental strategies in plant physiology using the tools of molecular biology and biochemistry. I wouldn’t want to say that it was easy; rather, it was a great challenge supported by the confidence that Bill Lucas had that we could do good science. RNAs and proteins with supracellular properties that coordinate plant development and responses to biotic and abiotic stimuli were characterized under his guidance. This pioneering work is widely cited, and it opened a new field of understand in plant biology. I was in his lab 22 years ago, and I still proudly introduce him as my teacher; he has frequently traveled at his own expense to visit us and give talks and teach courses in our research center, while providing us with his expert opinion on our experiments. It is appropriate that Professor Bill Lucas be recognized as a pioneer in plant biology not only in the US, but also internationally.

Zhaoliang Zhang – I worked in the Lucas lab for five years, from 2011 to 2016, where I was strictly trained. Bill is still helping me since the six years when I returned to China as a Full Professor.