Testimonials for Pioneer Member Virginia Walbot

John Bodeau – Ginny was my graduate advisor. I learned much from her: how to lead a lab, how to do science, how to balance short-turnaround and long-turnaround (fieldwork) projects. She once said her policy with grad students was to “let them twist in the breeze” while providing an atmosphere and lab where ideas and data were always being discussed and shared. This meant that every lesson learned in the process was learned by doing. Her love for the organism was an inspiration too.

Vicki Chandler – I joined Ginny’s lab after completing my PhD studying a tumor virus in mice, and prior to that I worked on protein targeting in yeast. I was well trained in molecular biology and biochemistry, but knew very little about plants. Ginny had a wealth of knowledge about plant development, plant physiology and maize genetics and I learned so much from her. She was terrific at promoting folks in her lab and helping us to connect in ways to further our careers. I remember very early on during my postdoc that Ginny introduced me to E. H. Coe, Jr, Gerry Neuffer and Jerry Kermicle, three amazing maize geneticists whose work provided the foundations for my research on paramutation in maize.

Alejandra A. Covarruias – We call her Ginny; she was one of my very best teachers. With her, I learned about plants, about the wonders of this kingdom, about the careful observation of their beauties, and about the discovery of their secrets that still do not stop surprising me. I recognize her generosity, dedication, scientific rigor, and critical opinions that inspire me to continuously grow in the world of science. We share a passion for science and teaching and we have lived the development of plant science in my country, to which she also has contributed.

Rachel Egger – As my PhD advisor, Ginny shaped much of my views and methodology as a scientist. Her emphases on understanding the basics of your system and its genetics, and on asking the right research questions, are all present in how I approach my projects to this day. She taught me to be a generous collaborator, and she gave me the freedom to pursue what I was most interested in, even when it wasn’t entirely clear where those interests would take me. I can honestly say that I don’t know what I would be doing today if Ginny hadn’t taught me all the mysteries of maize as a grad student!

Sarah Hake – I was one of Ginny’s first three graduate students. She often welcomed the department to her house for a meal and we did the same. It was a great time of sharing ideas and life. She has been a strong supporter of my research ever since.

Katherine Murphy – Ginny Walbot is the reason I am a plant biologist – she took me into her lab when I knew nothing and taught me everything I could learn about plant biology and maize genetics. Joining Ginny’s lab is never just starting an internship, it’s gaining insight into the history and genetics of corn, lighting a flame to the career candles of young scientists, and providing a support system for all of life’s challenges. Ginny’s passion for maize genetics is contagious, and not only is she a wealth of knowledge, she is a skilled and dedicated teacher to the future of our field. Her dedication to good and thorough science, creative approaches to scientific questions, and determination to be in the field each day – where she weeds and pollinates alongside all of her students – showed me the scientist and leader that I aspire to be.

Chong Teng – I’m a postdoc working in Dr. Blake Meyers lab at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in St. Louis, MO. I knew Prof. Virginia Walbot — Ginny, before the 2014 maize meeting in Beijing, and now we are working together on solving phasiRNA puzzles in the maize anther. I’m always impressed by the beautiful universe of maize biology and the critical thinking from Ginny and her lab members. With deep understanding and care for many topics in plant biology, she is my idol as a plant scientist. We always believe that Ginny knows the answer to almost everything. And I was lucky to stay in her house for a week, to learn how to work with corn and to observe her routine life closely. She loves corn and field work; moreover, she’s a fun boss! During the pollination season, the Walbot lab has a BBQ near their corn nursery every Wednesday. I am proud that I can work with her, and truly appreciate everything I learned from her.