National news release
Story about Dayan's
Early Career Award Comes "Naturally" to ARS
Scientist By Amy
February 13, 2002
OXFORD, Miss., Feb. 13--Franck Dayan, a plant physiologist with
the Agricultural Research Service, has
won an Early Career Research Scientist Award from the federal research agency
and will be honored in a ceremony today at the
Henry A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.)
Agricultural Research Center. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agricultures chief
scientific research agency.
Dayan is based at ARS
Natural Products Utilization
Research Unit, Oxford, Miss., where he and his colleagues work to find
potential new agricultural uses for chemicals naturally present in plants and
other organisms. In the seven years he has worked for USDA, Dayan has been
involved in the discovery of several important potential applications of
One of his most notable achievements has been discovering a new
mechanism of action for herbicides. The enzyme asparagine synthetase plays an
important role in plant development, and Dayan demonstrated that it is a
suitable target site for herbicides. He and his colleagues also demonstrated
that it is highly sensitive to certain monoterpene cineoles, common components
in the essential oils of aromatic plants such as eucalyptus. This research
could possibly lead to new, natural products-derived herbicides, and it has
sparked great interest in the scientific community.
Dayans most recent accomplishment involves the discovery
of a chemical found in lichen that is a potent inhibitor of
hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase, another enzyme necessary for plant
development. This enzyme is already a target site for certain synthetic
herbicides; Dayans work illustrates the potential of using a naturally
derived product to bring about the same result.
He is a co-inventor on a patent for an inexpensive method of
deriving an anti-cancer drug from a commonly available plant. The drug is
currently derived from the roots of an endangered species found in the
Himalayas. Dr. Dayan is an exceptional early career scientist,
said Edward B. Knipling, ARS acting administrator. He has provided
considerable leadership in his research planning activities with postdoctoral
and visiting scientists, and both ARS and university scientists seek him out as
a collaborator and reviewer. His work is of the highest quality and has already
made an impact.
The early career award is given to ARS scientists
who have made outstanding scientific contributions, have been with the agency
seven years or less, and completed their highest academic degree within the
past 10 years. Dayan is the early career winner for the
agencys Mid South Area, which includes Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Mississippi and Tennessee.
Dayans citation is for outstanding research in
support of development of natural products for pest management. Knipling
will present Dayan with a plaque and a cash award at the Feb. 13 ceremony.
Dayan will also receive $10,000 in research support.
Dayan is a member of the Weed
Science Society of America and the
Phytochemical Society of North
America. He received his Ph.D. in plant physiology from
Auburn University in 1995, and he received
his bachelors and masters degrees in biology from
Stephen F. Austin State University in 1988
and 1992, respectively. He lives in Oxford, Miss.