Symposium at Yale to Honor Mary Helen Goldsmith and Auxin Research

Mary Helen Goldsmith

A symposium honoring the career of Yale Biology Professor Mary Helen Goldsmith will be held at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave. on October 27 beginning at 9:00 a.m., and will feature talks by prominent plant biologists. The event is free and open to the public.

Goldsmith, who is professor emerita, has been a member of the Yale Faculty since 1963. Her principal teaching and research has been in Plant Cell Biology and Physiology, with a focus on the regulation of growth by environmental signals and hormones, the polar transport of auxin, and the role of proton pumps and ion channels in acquisition of nutrients.

The featured speakers of the symposium include former students, research associates and colleagues of Goldsmith. The symposium will begin with opening remarks by Timothy Nelson, professor of molecular cellular and developmental biology at Yale.

The morning session includes talks by Gus Speth, dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Gordon Geballe, associate dean of that school, whose topic is, “Undergraduate Education in Environment: Yale and Beyond.”  Robert Cleland, professor emeritus at University of Washington will deliver “Auxin, Mary Helen Goldsmith, and cell-to-cell communication in plants;” and Maarten Chrispeels of the University of California, San Diego, “Can biotechnology help abolish food insecurity in the least developed countries?”

In the afternoon, Daniel Cosgrove, of Pennsylvania State University will speak on “Plant Cell Wall loosening: a Journey from Darwin’s Phototropism Experiments to the Crystal Structure of Expansion.” Finally, Edgar Spalding, professor, University of Wisconsin will speak on “Career Mimicry, from Auxin Transport to Ion Channels.”

Goldsmith served for seven years as Master of Silliman College where she nurtured the Student Environmental Coalition and provided them with their first space, and she since has acted as a consultant and guide for this group. She also played a key role in revitalizing the “second major” in environmental studies that under her leadership matured into a full-fledged major with faculty contributions from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale College.

For 16 years, Goldsmith was the Director of the Marsh Botanical Garden. She has served as President of the American Society of Plant Physiologists and was a Guggenheim Fellow, and was the first Brenda Ryman Visiting Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge University.

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