Testimonials for Pioneer Member Patricia Zambryski

Barbara Baker – I have known, worked with, and been a close friend of Pat’s for forty-five years. I have been following Pat’s groundbreaking career since we first met at UC San Francisco, when Pat was a postdoc in the Goodman lab and I was a graduate student in the Bishop-Varmus Lab. We remain close professionally, personally, and geographically(!).

Pat’s next career step was in Belgium, where she joined the labs of Marc Van Montagu and Jeff Schell to work on Agrobacterium and the field of plant biology. Before she left San Francisco for Europe, Pat introduced me to Agrobacterium and its interaction with plants. When asked about my decision to join Jeff Schell’s lab in Cologne as a postdoc, switching from viruses to plant research, my answer is simple: “I followed my role model and friend Pat”. Pat and I stayed in contact through frequent train trips between Ghent and Cologne. While in Ghent, Pat’s discoveries and development of Agrobacterium Ti plasmid T-DNA vectors for plant transformation changed the course of plant research, including the focus of my research. Visits with Pat led to the opportunity to use an early Agrobacterium T-DNA vector to transfer Wessler and Federoff’s newly isolated maize transposon, Activator (Ac), to a “heterologous” plant species for mutagenesis and “gene tagging”. At the time, just one “heterologous” species, tobacco, could be transformed; thus, Agrobacterium T-DNA vectors carrying Ac into tobacco was the experimental system used for isolation of the first resistance gene, N, for tobacco mosaic virus resistance.

In 1986, Pat joined the UC Berkeley faculty in Plant Biology. I was fortunate again to follow her to California and joined the USDA and UC Berkeley Plant Gene Expression Center. Pat is a remarkable colleague. Pat’s breakthrough research reflects her insightful, independent thinking, and her passion for taking a new path. Pat’s mentorship has been a constant guide. Her fearsome independence showed me that changing a research field, working in an unfamiliar setting, and tackling challenging questions in a new way were no big deal. Pat’s devotion to research and a scientific career, while loving life outside the lab, set the best example for a life in research. Pat’s loyal support and sincere friendship remain the most treasured of her many gifts.

Christian Baron – Pat is a leading scientist who made several ground-breaking discoveries on the Agrobacterium tumefaciens-plant interaction, as well as in other fields of plant biology. The principles she discovered have made a broad impact on the field of host-pathogen interactions. Her research helped pave the way for the genetic modification of plant genomes at the beginning of modern plant biotechnology. She was an outstanding mentor for me when I was a postdoc in her laboratory, and she has guided my career ever since.

Todd Cameron – Pat was a phenomenal PhD advisor; she mixed just the right parts of supervision and freedom, and had the patience to listen to my wild ideas and then encourage me to follow through on them (with some revisions, of course, and occasionally after injecting some wild ideas of her own).

Euna Cho – Dr. Zambryski is an innovative scientist who has made a great impact on science. She also is a devoted mentor who has inspired many young scientists.

Wolf B Frommer – Pat was one of the pioneers of Agrobacterium-mediated transfromation and made many of the seminal discoveries around the mechanism. She is also among the most prominent scientists who advanced our understanding of the enigmatic cell-cell bridges of plant cells, the plasmodesmata.

Andreas Gisel – I worked in Pat Zambryski’s laboratory as a postdoc from 1996 to 1999, and these were my best years in my scientific career. Pat was able to support you and help develop your own ideas. She pushed you in the right direction to get meaningful results and publications. I am very grateful for having had this experience and the possibility to develop my research interests.

Britt Glaunsinger – In addition to her remarkable scientific accomplishments, Pat has always been a wonderful supporter of her colleagues and trainees in Plant & Microbial Biology. I am fortunate to have worked with her for the last 16 years; she’s an inspiration!

Zisheng Guo – It is my honor to be the member of Zambryski Lab. And, it has been a great opportunity to study and accomplish some scientific work there. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Pat as her postdoc at UC Berkeley for two years. What I find highly remarkable is her thinking about research topics and strategies that make it possible to them possible. I appreciate her mentorship and all the advice she has given, guiding me to think as a scientific scholar.

Romain Grangeon – Pat has has produced generations of scientists who were very successful. Her passion for science was infectious. It was a great pleasure and honor to be a part of her research group. The Zambrysky lab’s contributions to research had a long lasting impact on the field, and she deserves recognition as an ASPB Pioneer for this this reason.

Sarah Hake – Pat has always been honest in her assessments of scientific endeavors and taught me to try and do the same thing. She started a potluck dinner for women faculty in the department that continued for years, bringing us together in our homes to share life and work stories. That was a true gift.

Fred Hempel – After I completed my postdoc with Pat Zambryski, I went on to a short stint in biotech and then became an independent tomato breeder. Pat’s appreciation for, and encouragement of, individuality was very important to me in my pathway to a rewarding (non-typical) career. I certainly enjoyed my time in academia, but I am also very grateful that I had supportive mentors, like Pat, who inspired me in my development. I was also inspired by Pat’s leadership by example. She was always interested in her own personal growth, and her devotion to her freshman seminar was particularly inspiring to me.

Jose Sebastian Robalino Espinosa – In 2017, Prof. Lucy Shapiro introduced me to Prof. Patricia Zambryski, who was faculty member in the Department Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California in Berkeley (now Professor emeritus), dissecting the molecular players of the polar growth cell cycle in the unconventional alpha-proteobacterium model system, Agrobacterium tumefaciens (hereafter referred to as Agrobacterium). After presenting my Caulobacter PodJ work on May 2017 at Berkeley, I was invited to join the Zambryski lab. Soon after, Patricia encouraged me to get familiar with Agrobacterium and her most recent awarded National Science Foundation grant. I learned that although CtrA is encoded in Agrobacterium, this bacterium grows differently than Caulobacter by incorporating the new growth material (e.g., peptidoglycan) into a single cell pole, the growth pole. I focused on one big question: “Does polar growth require specialized mechanisms and new, coopted, or repurposed cell polarity factors? “. So, with John Zupan, an extraordinary bacterial cell biologist and former lab manager at the Zambryski lab, I studied the function and localization of a previously uncharacterized protein, now named as Growth Pole Ring protein (GPR), as this cell polarity factor forms a striking hexameric ring like structure at the growth pole and is required to maintain cell morphology. John’s project gave the opportunity to learn wonderful molecular genetics and cell biology skills. My work at the Zambryski lab with the fantastic supervision of Patricia allowed me to defend my PhD thesis at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Luis Herrera Estrella – Pati, thanks a lot for teaching me about science and life. I will never forget you!

Hailing- Jin – Pat has made many ground breaking discoveries in the field of plant – microbial interaction. She is a role model for me and all woman scientists.

Peggy Lemaux – What an honor to be a member of the same department and lean on her expertise!

Robyn Overall – Pat Zambryski has been a wonderful colleague sharing my interest in intercellular communication in plants.

Allen Sessions – Pat taught me to be fearless with ideas, precise with communication, and passionate about my science; invariably, progress and results flow from these attributes. She practices what she teaches like an Artistic Master, and her work fills our great museums. I am fortunate and thankful to have studied with her, and we all are better for her impact as a Pioneer, teacher, and scholar.

Jens Tilsner – Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation, TMV 30k, symplastic fields, ise and dse mutants – so many discoveries and great experiments. A true plant science Pioneer and a humble and very approachable one at that!!

Rosemary White – Pat Zambryski is probably better known for her pioneering work on Agrobacterium, but I met her after she had turned some of her interest to plasmodesmata and intercellular communication, where she has also made pioneering contributions. Perhaps more significant has been her ongoing support of the many students and postdocs who have worked in her group, who have moved on into good positions in academia and elsewhere. And she has always been a generous, insightful, inquisitive and supportive colleague, the signature of a true leader. Cheers, Pat, from downunder!

John Zupan – I want to express my gratitude to Pat for taking me into her lab and giving me an incredible opportunity. Our scientific accomplishments are vindication of my decision to pursue a career in science, and for that I will be forever grateful. In addition to the science, Pat’s lab was continuously populated with outstanding people. Now that the science is behind us, we are left with the relationships we developed with Zambryski lab members- so many friends. Pat has been a mentor, colleague, and friend. Thank you.