MCB Project Scientist Nathan C. Rockwell Wins Academic Federation Excellence in Research Award

The Academic Federation recently announced Sean Davis, Nathan C. Rockwell and Wrye Sententia as the recipients of its Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Research awards for 2016:

The federation gives the awards annually, selecting the recipients from among its membership of about 1,500 academics, with titles that include adjunct professor and adjunct instructor, agronomist, academic administrator and academic coordinator, librarian and program coordinator, as well as Cooperative Extension specialist — and, in the case of this year’s recipients, lecturer and project scientist.

The following write-up is derived from the selection committees’ recommendations:

Excellence in Research


Nathan C. Rockwell, project scientist, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology — His work informs new avenues for increasing light harvesting efficiency of food and energy crop species, and presages complete understanding of light signal transfer. He is the founding father and driving force of research on cyanobacteriochromes, or CBCRs, a family of phytochrome-related light sensors. Rockwell's studies have led to new insights into how CBCR sensors perceive different colors of light, how photoactivation of the bound pigment leads to activation of the surrounding protein scaffold to transmit information to associated signaling output domains and how these molecules can be engineered as light switches in living cells for biotechnological applications. His recent discovery of novel far-red light sensors holds enormous potential in the fields of neurobiology and medicine by opening a window for deep light penetration into tissue. The pending patent application that is supported by the UC Davis Technology Transfer Office underscores the importance of the possibilities. Rockwell participates directly in the research of all grant participants and has co-authored 39 peer-reviewed publications since 2009 (first author on 14).

This story originally appeared on UC Davis News.