News Release

University of Minnesota faculty elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Dan Voytas and Marlene Zuk.

The University of Minnesota and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) are excited to announce two faculty members from the College of Biological Sciences on the Twin Cities campus have been elected as NAS members. Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States.

A hundred new members were elected this year, honored for their continuing achievements in original research. The University of Minnesota faculty to receive this distinction are:

Dan Voytas
Director, Centefor Precision Plant Genomics
Professor, Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

Voytas’ research focuses on developing methods to edit plant genomes. His laboratory developed a powerful genome editing reagent — Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs) — and is currently optimizing methods for efficiently making targeted genome modifications in a variety of plant species to advance basic biology and develop new crop varieties.

Marlene Zuk
Professor, Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
Associate Dean for Faculty, College of Biological Sciences

Zuk is a behavioral ecologist who uses invertebrate systems to study the evolution of mating behavior and secondary sexual characteristics. She seeks to understand how natural and sexual selection pressures shape the behavior, life history and morphology of animals. Recent studies have focused on how conflicting natural and sexual selection pressures shape behavior and morphology on individual, population and species levels.

“The election of Professors Voytas and Zuk to the National Academy of Sciences is a well-deserved recognition of the impact each has had on their respective disciplines,” said Valery Forbes, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. “Their work — from cutting-edge gene editing of plants to substantially improve crops to advancing understanding of key evolutionary processes while providing profound insights into human behavior — is a testament to the incredible research happening in our college and at the University.”

Including Voytas and Zuk, there have been 44 University of Minnesota faculty elected as NAS members since 1930. As of April 2019, there are 2,347 active NAS members.


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