Alice Barkan

University of Oregon


Primary Section: 62, Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences
Secondary Section: 25, Plant Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2020)

Biosketch

Alice Barkan is a molecular biologist recognized for her work on the biogenesis of chloroplasts. She is known particularly for her studies of the post-transcriptional control of chloroplast gene expression, and the unusual families of RNA binding proteins that underlie much of the complexity of chloroplast RNA metabolism. Barkan grew up in the suburbs of New York City. She graduated from MIT with a degree in Biology in 1978, and earned a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983. She was a postdoctoral fellow in plant molecular biology at the University of California-Berkeley, and joined the faculty at the University of Oregon in 1991. She is a AAAS fellow and the recipient of the Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Research Interests

Research in Alice Barkan’s laboratory is directed at understanding how the genetic machineries in the chloroplast and nucleus cooperate to synthesize, assemble, and regulate the photosynthetic apparatus. Their research combines genetic, genomic, and biochemical approaches to identify relevant genes, define their in vivo functions, and elucidate mechanisms. Much of this research is grounded in their large-scale genetic analysis of chloroplast biogenesis via transposon mutagenesis in maize. This screen underlies projects that have focused on the assembly of the photosynthetic apparatus, protein-facilitated splicing of group II introns, mechanisms of RNA stabilization and translational control, and pentatricopeptide repeat RNA-binding proteins as mediators of chloroplast RNA metabolism. They are applying their insights into mechanisms of chloroplast gene expression to applications that exploit the chloroplast as a biofactory for the production of foreign products.

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