Congratulations to Sam Wang, Ph.D., E. Desmond Lee Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Member, Danforth Plant Science Center, on being awarded the 2018 George Engelmann Interdisciplinary Award from the St. Louis Academy of Science.

Sam joined both the Danforth Center and the department of Biology at UMSL as an adjunct professor in 2004. Wang and his collaborators have made important discoveries in cell signaling and have identified genes, pathways and mechanisms that increase oil production in plants. Sam’s research aims to discover and understand the signaling and regulatory processes that mediate plant stress response and oil production. He is interested in translating knowledge gained from this work to improve plant oil and biomass production.

The George Engelmann Interdisciplinary Award recognizes outstanding achievement in science, engineering, or technology that results from collaboration among two or more (up to three) individuals across disciplinary or institutional boundaries. Sam has made seminal contributions to the field of plant lipid metabolism and signaling. His cloning of phospholipase D (PLD) was a major breakthrough, leading to the identification of PLDs in yeast and animals and providing the catalyst for rapid advances in PLD research. His systematic analyses of PLD and other phospholipase families have advanced biochemical and functional understanding of membrane lipid hydrolysis. This work led to the discovery of phosphatidic acid (PA) as an important class of lipid mediators in plants and the elucidation of PA action. Sam’s vision and role in developing lipidomic analysis has broadly benefited the research community, leading to characterization of lipolytic enzymes, identification of bioactive lipids, and understanding lipid-protein interactions. Furthermore, Sam has made significant progress in translating his lab discoveries to improve crops for oil production, drought tolerance, and N/P use efficiency.

Since its inception, the Academy has promoted the recognition of the impressive scientists of St. Louis. Sam will be honored on April 5 at the 2018 Academy of Science – St. Louis 24th Annual Outstanding Scientists Awards Dinner along with other candidates who also have a record of excellence in communicating with the public, mentoring colleagues, or leadership in the field of science or industry.

Past George Engelmann Interdisciplinary Award Recipients: Edward Spitznagel, Ph.D. (2017); Yuanlong Pan, BVM, Ph.D. (2016); Gary D. Stormo, Ph.D. (2016); Gregory R. Heck, Ph.D. and Technical Community of Monsanto Leadership Team (2015) Timothy J. Ley, M.D. (2012) Elaine R. Mardis, Ph.D. (2012) Richard Wilson, Ph.D. (2012)

Wang holds several U.S. patents, published more than 160 papers in peer-reviewed journals and edited two books. His research is supported by multiple federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation. In 2014, Sam received the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity from UMSL for his groundbreaking research in plant biology.