Public Release: 

Dr. Peggy Lemaux awarded ASPB foundation grant

American Society of Plant Biologists

ROCKVILLE -- Dr. Peggy Lemaux of UC-Berkeley's Department of Plant and Microbial Biology has won funding from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) 2007 Grant Awards Program. The ASPB Education Foundation awards up to $30,000 to ASPB members conducting research projects that will advance plant biology through K-16 education and public outreach activities.

Plant science includes the development of safe, robust and environmentally friendly foods. Lemaux's group will use their award to update and expand materials designed to help the public learn how safe foods are produced. These materials are used at plant science and science education forums as well as family-oriented outreach locations like county fairs. Lemaux's work has been funded by ASPB before. By awarding additional funds for this project, ASPB will allow this on-going project to build upon its success and meet the demand for more of what has been started.

Specifically, to expand the Foods: Past and Present display, the team will create a related hands-on activity, the GENE-ie Juice Bar. The juice bar will demonstrate that DNA and genes are part of daily living. Drawn in by the appetizing format of a juice bar, users will explore the DNA protocol. The protocol is easily accessed in a variety of fresh, juice-able produce.

GAP funds will go toward juice bar tools as well as a new handout to a ugment the related baseball-type cards, What is DNA" and How Much DNA Do You Eat" GAP funds will also help defray the cost of sending these materials to new and repeat users everywhere.

To enhance the educational effectiveness of the Tic, Tac Grow game, the team will add an activity where children make necklaces of microfuge tubes filled with different colored seeds. Necklaces will inspire interest in seed varieties and serve as take-home reminders of the game's lessons. The team plans to make 1,000 necklaces with children as they discuss important ideas about plants.

Lemaux's resources are doubly-useful as they make it easy for other plant biologists to connect with the general public. Scientists and educators, including many ASPB members, have been using Lemaux's materials at conferences and events to great effect since she first received GAP funding to develop them in 2004. Since 2005 these materials have been sent to nearly 100 organizations and have reached an audience of over 1,000 interested attendees. In 2005-2006 the displays traveled as far as Hawaii and Africa. They will visit 24 venues in 2006-2007.

Lemaux's project continues to build bridges with other outreach efforts. For example, the team's Administrative Assistant/Graphic Designer, Barbara Alonso, will create additional outreach materials for RiceCAP and BarleyCAP. An undergraduate student at one of the UC institutions will also participate in outreach activities using these materials, thus expanding this teaching modality to the next generation of plant scientists.


ASPB, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, was founded in 1924 as the American Society of Plant Physiologists. This professional society has a membership of 5,000 plant scientists from the United States and more than 50 other nations. ASPB publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals in the world: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.

Peggy Lemaux

Brian Hyps
301.251.0560 ext 114

Katie Engen
301.251.0560 ext 116

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