Sarah M. Assmann, Waller Professor of Biology at Penn State, has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal The Plant Cell, effective January 1, 2020. The Plant Cell, one of the top research journals in plant biology, was established in 1989 by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The journal publishes novel research of particular significance in plant biology, especially in the areas of cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, development, and evolution.
“Professor Assmann has a distinguished history of service to ASPB and the plant science community,” said ASPB President Robert L. Last. “We are delighted that she has agreed to take the helm of The Plant Cell. As the scientific publishing landscape changes, we are confident that her visionary leadership and tireless dedication to the highest standards of scholarship will take the journal to new heights of excellence.”
Assmann’s research interests focus on how plants sense and respond to stresses associated with environmental change, particularly drought and high temperature. Her research integrates multiple approaches, including classical genetics and physiology, next-generation genome-wide techniques, and computational modeling to study how rice, a staple food for half the world's population, and mouse-ear cress, a model plant species, tolerate their changing environment.
Assmannn received a Lab Bench to Commercialization Grant with collaborator Philip Bevilacqua, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State, in 2015 to help develop and simplify methods to determine the structures of all RNAs inside a cell. Her achievements have also been recognized with a Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in 2001 and a National Science Foundation POWRE Award in 1999. She is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. From 2009 to 2010, she served as the president of the American Society of Plant Biologists, where she has served terms on various committees and on the Board of Trustees and is a founding member of the ASPB Legacy Society. She was a co-editor of The Plant Cell from 1998 to 2014 and a monitoring editor of Plant Physiology from 1994 to 1997.
“My vision for The Plant Cell is a journal that publishes the very best research in all fields of plant biology, and provides vital information in its front section and other resources to foster the success of plant biologists worldwide, in any field of employment and at all career stages,” said Assmann. “My Penn State collaborators and the collaborative environment provided by the University have fostered the type of broad vision that will be invaluable as I take on this new role at The Plant Cell.”
Assmann began at Penn State in 1993 as an associate professor and was named professor in 1997 and the Waller Professor of Biology in 2002. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Assmann was an assistant professor then associate professor at Harvard University from 1987 to 1993. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Riverside, from 1986 to 1987. Assmann earned a doctoral degree in biology at Stanford University in 1986 and a bachelor's degree in biology at Williams College in 1980.