Professor Nitzan Shabek Receives NSF CAREER Award

Nitzan Shabek

Nitzan Shabek, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Biology, has received a $837,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation. The five-year award will support Shabek’s research into elucidating the sensing mechanism of an emerging and unique class of plant hormones. Additionally, as an integral part of the research activities, this project will create a unique teaching platform and outreach program to encourage young students to pursue knowledge in STEM.

“Our research focusses on understanding how plants can sense their environment from the atomic to whole organismal level,” says Shabek. “In this project, we plan to decode the signaling pathway of a new plant hormone, Strigolactones, that not only regulate many aspects of plant growth and development, but also serve as communication signal between plants and fungi. This plant-fungi signal has been exploited by devastating parasitic plants that completely destroy crops globally.”

Shabek’s lab integrates cutting edge approaches from the fields of structural biology, biochemistry, and molecular and cellular biology to decode sensing machineries and signaling pathways in plants, fungi, and humans to develop innovative strategies for the benefit of agriculture, environment, and human health.

The NSF CAREER awards are the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Adapted from a story by Andy Fell for Dateline.