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Award for Excellence in Basic Research

Boris Vinatzer

Award for Excellence in Basic Research winner David Schmale
Excellence in Basic Research Winner Boris Vinatzer

Vinatzer is a professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences who has helped identify emerging plant disease. Boris has with funding from NSF, he is currently unraveling the molecular basis of ice nucleation in this bacterium.

This research is highly relevant to climate change because there is growing evidence that the abundance of ice nucleation active bacteria in clouds affects global warming and the frequency and intensity of precipitation.

Vinatzer’s entire academic career, from his Ph.D. project at the University of Bologna in Italy to his research as faculty member in CALS, has centered on using the latest available technologies to gain basic insights into the genetics of bacteria and plants and to improve plant health. In his Ph.D. research, he used a recently-developed cloning technology to identify the very first gene in any tree that confers disease resistance.

In his postdoctoral work, he took advantage of one of the first genome-sequenced bacterial plant pathogens to identify its complete repertoire of a key type of virulence gene. This helped to unravel how bacteria cause plant disease and to determine how we can develop plants that resist them.