Public Release: 

BTI researcher elected to National Academy of Sciences

Boyce Thompson Institute


IMAGE: Jim Giovannoni, BTI professor, USDA-ARS research molecular biologist and Cornell University adjunct professor, is recognized by the National Academy of Sciences for his significant contributions to plant science. view more

Credit: Sheryl Sinkow

ITHACA, NY-- Jim Giovannoni, Boyce Thompson Institute professor, USDA scientist and Cornell University adjunct professor of plant biology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Giovannoni, who is known for his research on tomato fruit ripening and his participation in the International Tomato Sequencing Project, is one of 84 new members announced by the National Academy of Sciences on May 3. The organization recognizes his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research in plant science.

"Congratulations to Jim for this great honor, which reflects the recognition of the community--at the national and international level--for his distinguished career and the many significant contributions that the Giovannoni lab has made over the years," said BTI VP for Research Eric Richards.

At BTI, researchers in the Giovannoni Lab use the tomato and its wild relatives to study fruit ripening and its effect on nutritional quality and flavor. They investigate how ripening is regulated in the tomato and how this process has evolved. His lab also works to develop genomic tools for studying tomatoes and related plant species. He collaborated on the sequencing of the tomato genome, published in 2012, and the wild tomato genome in 2014.

"Such honors are certainly humbling and, in reality, reflect the summed efforts of not only the one honored but the excellent students, postdocs, colleagues, institutions and family members that one is fortunate to have relationships with," said Giovannoni. "I cannot imagine a more supportive and exciting space to do research than the unique intersection of the BTI, Cornell and USDA-ARS communities found in Ithaca."

Giovannoni earned his doctorate in molecular and physiological plant biology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1990, followed by two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. He then joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in College Station in the department of horticultural sciences. Giovannoni returned to Ithaca to join BTI and the USDA - ARS in 2000. His successful scientific program and widely cited research publications earned him the honor of being included by Thomson Reuters in its list of 2015's "Most Influential Scientific Minds," earlier this year.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Currently, it has 2,291 active members and 465 foreign associates. The National Academy of Sciences recognizes achievement in science by election to membership and provides science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.


Media Relations Contacts: Patricia Waldron (607-254-7476, or Kitty Gifford (607-592-3062,

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About Boyce Thompson Institute

Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health.

BTI employs 150 staff, with scientists from 40 countries around the world and has twice been named as one of the Best Companies in New York State. Its 15 principal investigators are leading minds in plant development, chemical ecology, microbiology and plant pathology, and have access to the institute's state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities with computerized controls and a system of integrated pest management. BTI has one of the largest concentrations of plant bioinformaticists in the U.S., with researchers who work across the entire spectrum of "omics" fields. BTI researchers consistently receive funding from NSF, NIH, USDA and DOE and publish in top tier journals. Throughout its work, BTI is committed to inspiring and educating students and to providing advanced training for the next generation of scientists. For more information, visit

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