Prof. Ottoline Leyser, Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory for Plant Development in Cambridge, has been appointed Doctor honoris causa with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, in a ceremony held on Friday 18 November, 2016.
Dr. Leyser’s academic career began with a degree in genetics followed by a PhD, both from Cambridge University. Her thesis project focused on understanding the mode of action of the shoot meristem. After her PhD she continued her research career at Purdue University, Indiana. During her time at Purdue she identified a gene required for the perception of the phytohormone auxin.
In 1994 Dr. Leyser set up her own research group at the University of York and has made since then seminal contributions to the field of plant development focusing on the interplay between auxin and other plant growth regulators enabling plants to successfully adapt to changing environments. More recently these activities have been elevated to a different level because she moved back to Cambridge and became the director of the newly established Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University.
The leading research Dr. Leyser has performed throughout her scientific career is not only indicated by the large number of publications she has co-authored but also by the academic honors she has received. Throughout her career she has also actively contributed to the development of global plant science community by participating in committees, outreach activities and mentorship programs.
In parallel to these strategic activities Dr. Leyser was constantly contributing to outreach activities and public policy development. She has been actively promoting science education and research training as means for diverse career paths, which is exemplified by the more than 40 PhD students and postdoctoral scientists she has mentored during her career. In parallel she has provided guidance on career development for female scientists and advised institutions on gender equality.
As a result of her active involvement in the development of the scientific community, policy and her contributions to society at large, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2009.