Testimonials for Pioneer Member Tom Sharkey

Xiuyin Chen – Tom Sharkey is not only a pioneering plant scientist, but was also a wonderful mentor. I worked in Tom’s lab as a research specialist for about a year and a half. Tom was very encouraging and helpful to me. I still remembered the Thanksgiving dinner at his house more than 20 years ago. Thanks for the chance to learn and grow in your laboratory, Tom!

Eunsoo Kim – Tom Sharkey was my PhD co-supervisor, alongside Prof. Linda Graham. Although my doctoral dissertation ended up originating from the work I did in the Graham lab due to my inclination towards algal evolutionary and diversity studies at that time, Tom provided support for my research and training throughout my graduate study, and even after my graduation as a letter writer. Tom Sharkey is a great scholar and teacher; his excitement about the work he did was palpable and there was great rigor in his approach to research. As someone who grew up in a culture where serving society was considered a virtue and pursuit of personal interest was not, I had a memorable awakening moment when Tom told me he was motivated to do research out of his deep curiosity and interest in understanding the process of photosynthesis. Wow, I was so relieved to hear that from an established scholar, because back then I was having a bit of difficulty when confronted by my biology peers or acquaintances with the same cultural background as mine, who placed more value in following what is regarded as mainstream or “more important.” Outside of work, Tom is a warm-hearted person who finds joy and fun in mingling with people and in other mundane and not-so-mundane activities. When coming across challenges as a lab head, I wish I could be half as good as Tom (or Linda). He is a good reminder that there are great people in the world.

Yan Lu – I was a Ph.D. student in Tom’s laboratory at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom is one of the greatest mentors and teachers one could ever have. He is kind, patient, encouraging, and he deeply cares for his students and postdocs and their careersy. One important aspect of Tom’s interactions with students is his ability to provide just the right amount of guidance, yet allow the student some independence. Tom always put his students’ interests and careers ahead of his own interests and concerns. In conclusion, Tom profoundly influenced the careers of his students and postdocs, including me.