Dame Caroline Dean
Dame Caroline Dean DBE FRS, based at the John Innes Centre, is one of three recipients of this year’s Royal Medals. She will receive the silver gilt medal along with £10,000 at the upcoming Premier Awards Dinner.
The medals are awarded for the most important contributions in either physics, biology or the applied sciences; Dame Caroline Dean is awarded hers for revealing the molecular mechanisms of seasonal timing in plants. Specifically, she works on understanding what controls plant flowering on the genetic and molecular level.
In her work, she has focused on determining the epigenetic basis for vernalisation, the process by which some plants initiate flowering after prolonged exposure to cold, such as winter time. In other words, how do plants ‘remember’ that they have experienced cold months before flowering, and why is it necessary for them to bloom? The discovery of the responsible mechanisms has had wide-ranging significance in a number of fields, including epigenetics and molecular evolution.
The Royal Medal is Dame Caroline Dean’s second prestigious award of 2020. In January she was awarded the 2020 Wolf Prize in Agriculture, sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Agriculture”. With this prize, she received $100,000. At the time, the Wolf Foundation said that her work on understanding plants’ memory mechanisms and temperature sensitivity had had a crucial impact on agriculture and the efforts to ensure a year-round supply of crops.
The other recipients of the Royal Medal include Prof. Herbert Huppert FRS for his work on fluid mechanics, and Prof. Ian Shanks OBE FREng FRS for his invention of novel LCDs and commercial diabetes test strips.(© AcademiaNet)