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James Birchler Named a Prestigious Curators' Professorship

Jim Birchler

Columbia, Mo. — James A. Birchler, an IPG professor in biological sciences, has been awarded one of the University of Missouri's most prestigious appointments, a Curators' Professorship.

Birchler is recognized around the world as an expert in the area of maize and Drosophila genetics. His laboratory recently developed the first artificial mini-chromosome in maize, the first demonstration and use of this technology to be accomplished in plants. Together with Reiner Veitia, they formulated the Gene Balance Hypothesis that synthesizes how regulatory mechanisms affect quantitative traits, dosage compensation, and certain evolutionary processes involving gene copy numbers. Birchler is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, and book chapters and associate editor of Genetics and The Plant Cell, two leading scientific journals. He is recipient of a number of research grants, including, most recently, a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support his research on artificial chromosome technology in maize.

Birchler has earned many honors for his research and teaching. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from the MU Panhellenic Council and was named a 'teaching legend' by Mizzou Magazine. Birchler is sought after worldwide as a distinguished lecturer on genetics and chromosomal dosage effects.

He has been an active member of the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group since 1996. As an IPG member, he engages in teaching and research that crosses divisional lines.

The Curators' Professorship is awarded to the UM System's most successful and prominent scholars, as identified by their departments and their peers in the field. Of the 7,600 UM faculty members, only 49 have been appointed to the rank of Curators' Professorship. Birchler is one of only three professors to receive this honor in 2009.