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Research rooted in success

Queen's University biologist William Plaxton honoured for his work in the field of plant biology.

Queen’s University researcher William Plaxton (Biology) was recently awarded the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists’ Gold Medal, a lifetime achievement award for outstanding published contributions and distinguished service to plant biology in Canada.

Dr. Plaxton joined Queen’s 33 years ago and enjoys an international reputation for his research in understanding the organization and control of plant carbohydrate and phosphorus metabolism.

His work has significant long-term applications to problems in Canadian and worldwide agriculture including modification of oil and protein levels in oilseeds such as canola, optimizing plant-based conversion of carbon dioxide into renewable energy sources, and the development of phosphorus efficient crops – urgently needed to reduce the use of non-renewable, unsustainable, and polluting phosphate fertilizers.

“We have a first-rate team of researchers here in the Department of Biology at Queen’s that have been conducting excellent research in the area of plants and plant biology since the 1960s” says Dr. Plaxton.

In order to achieve the results that he’s had, Dr. Plaxton gives full credit to the students and post-doctoral fellows he has mentored.

“It’s been an honour and privilege to work with the students and post-docs that I have supervised,” he says. “My focus is to help my current students to be successful and to go on to productive careers – just like my students before them. I tell them to keep their eyes open and follow their passion. They need to follow their research and they will be a success.”

He also credits the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Queen’s Research Chairs program for providing key funding for his research program.

“We are immensely proud of Bill’s accomplishments in plant biology,” says Brian Cumming, Head of Biology. “His expertise in the organization and control of plant metabolism have established him as an international expert, and not surprisingly an integral part of plant research in our department. It is no surprise to me that he has received such a distinguished award.”