Agency Scientists Win Top
By Jill Lee
February 3, 1999
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3--Autar K. Mattoo, a plant
physiologist and biochemist, has been named 1998 Distinguished Senior
Research Scientist of the Year by the Agricultural Research Service for
groundbreaking research in plant metabolism that could help improve the supply
and quality of the world's food supply. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agricultures chief
Dr. Mattoos research established the concept that growth
regulators called polyamines control some crucial plant hormones. These
hormones govern leaf decay and fruit ripening, said ARS administrator
Floyd P. Horn. Better understanding of these polyamines can lead to
fruits and vegetables that mature at more convenient times for growers."
"Dr. Mattoo also developed methods to extend the shelf life of tomatoes
and other crops," Horn added.
Mattoo has served as research leader of the
Vegetable Laboratory at
ARS' Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research
Center since 1997. Before that, he headed the center's research in plant
Horn will present awards to Mattoo and 15 other agency scientists of the
year at a Feb. 10 ceremony in Beltsville. The scientists will receive plaques
and cash awards. In addition, as the agency's Distinguished Research Scientist
of the Year, Mattoo will receive $40,000 in additional research support.
In addition to Mattoo's other accomplishments, Horn said, "he designed
a novel concept of protein regulation by light, using a protein critical to
photosynthesis. He also developed an ultra-sensitive test to detect residual
herbicides in soil and water. His research opened new areas worldwide in
understanding how plant metabolism is regulated.
Mattoo has published more than 170 research papers during his career.
In 1969, he received his doctorate in microbiology and, in 1965, a
masters degree in biochemistry from Maharaja Sayajirao University in
Baroda, India, graduating summa cum laude. He earned two bachelors
degrees in chemistry, botany, zoology and geology from Jammu and Kashmir
University in Kashmir, India, in 1962 and 1963.
Mattoo has also served as an adjunct professor of biological sciences with
the University of Maryland. In 1995, he
received a $100,000 North Atlantic Treaty
Organization grant for high technology to improve plant production and
At the Feb. 10 ceremony, ARS will also honor three Outstanding Senior
Research Scientists for 1998, four "Area Senior Research Scientists of the
Year" and eight "early career" scientists of the year.
The three "Outstanding Scientists of the Year will receive
$25,000 in additional research support. They are:
- Deepak Bhatnagar,
geneticist, ARS Southern Regional
Research Center in New Orleans. He will be honored for leadership in
protecting the worlds food supply from aflatoxin. This natural
contaminant in corn and other grains is produced by the fungus Aspergillus
flavus. Bhatnagar has been instrumental in building a research team to
understand the fungi's molecular biology, a key to better prevention and
control of aflatoxin outbreaks.
Cornish, plant physiologist, Western
Regional Research Center, Albany, Calif. She will be recognized for
creativity as a researcher especially in studies of the biochemistry of natural
rubber and in developing hypo-allergenic latex from guayule, a native shrub of
the desert southwest. Guayule has shown promise as an alternative to the
Brazilian Hevea rubber tree, the world's primary source of natural
latex. Many people have serious--even life-threatening--allergies to
- Veterinarian Donald E.
Corrier, Food Animal Protection Research
Laboratory, College Station, Texas, is being honored for research to
improve food safety of poultry products through competitive exclusion. In this
technique, benign microorganisms are used to colonize an animals body to
protect it from disease and ensure that it does not introduce pathogens into
the human food supply. A product called PREEMPT was developed from this
approach and is now commercially available.
The four "Area Senior Research Scientists of the Year," who will
receive $15,000 in additional research support, are:
- Robert H. Busch, a
geneticist with ARS Plant Science Research
Unit in St. Paul, Minn., will be honored for his wheat breeding research
and technology transfer efforts. He is scientist of the year for the agency's
Midwest Area, which includes ARS labs in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
- Michael J. Kasperbauer, plant physiologist,
Coastal Plains Soil, Water and Plant
Research Center, Florence, S.C. He will be honored for improving the yield
of field-grown crops. He is the scientist of the year for the South Atlantic
Area, which includes Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Virginia,
as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Physiologist Henry C.
Lukaski heads the Mineral Nutrient Functions Laboratory at ARS Grand
Forks (N.D.) Human Nutrition Research
Center. He will be honored for his work on body composition analysis and
his support of younger scientists. He is the recipient for ARS Northern
Plains Area, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota,
South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
- Andrew N.
Sharpley, soil scientist,
Pasture Systems and
Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, Pa., will be
recognized for his work on reducing phosphorus runoff from farms. He is the
North Atlantic Area recipient. The area includes agency labs in Delaware,
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West
ARS also is honoring scientists who are just building their careers. An
"Early Career" awardee is recognized for making outstanding research
contributions despite being with the agency seven years or less and having
received the highest degree within the last 10 years.
This year, the top award in this category will go to animal physiologist
Dobrinsky as Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Scientist
of 1998. Dobrinsky works at ARS'
Germplasm and Gamete
Physiology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. He is being honored for devising
the first reliable methods for ultracold storage of swine embryos. This tool
will help advance breeding of swine around the world. As the outstanding early
career scientist, Dobrinsky will receive $25,000 in additional research
Seven Area Early Career Scientists of 1998" are also being
honored. Each will receive $10,000 in additional research support.
- Vijay K. Juneja, microbiologist, Food
Safety Research Unit, Wyndmoor, Pa., for research in detecting and
inactivating food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella.
Gail Neven, entomologist, Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Unit, Wapato,
Wash., for resourceful and creative research in developing alternatives to
methyl bromide for pest control.
Individual news releases on each awardee are available on request to Jill
Lee of ARS Information Staff, phone (301) 504-1627, fax (301) 504-1641,
For photos available, contact ARS Photo Unit by phone at 301-504-1609 or
e-mail to email@example.com.