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Mark Settles Appointed To UF’s New Vasil-Monsanto Professorship

Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281

Dan Cantliffe, (352) 392-1928, ext 203
Indra Vasil, (352) 392-1193
Mark Settles, (352) 392-7571

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mark Settles, a genetics researcher at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, has joined the faculty of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences as the Vasil-Monsanto assistant professor.

In announcing the appointment, Dan Cantliffe, chair of the UF horticultural sciences department, said Settles is the first to serve in the new Vasil-Monsanto Endowed Professorship. Indra Vasil, graduate research professor emeritus, and Monsanto Corporation in St. Louis established the professorship in 1999.

Vasil, known for his contributions to plant biotechnology, especially in the area of cereal grains, retired in 1999 after 32 years of UF service. He is currently president of the International Association for Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology, and will preside over its 10th congress in Orlando in 2002.

“Mark Settles is a brilliant young scientist, and we are fortunate to have him at the UF in this important position,” Vasil said.

Settles completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware, including an honors thesis in biological sciences in 1993. He completed his doctorate in genetics in a joint program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. For his dissertation, he established the role of a key component to a novel protein secretion pathway found in plants and bacteria. The research was published in 1997 as a cover article in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Settles came to UF in 1999 to conduct post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Donald McCarty in the horticultural sciences department.

During his post-doctoral research, Settles and McCarty established genetic and molecular tools for analysis of maize seed mutants. The work laid the foundation for a recent $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct functional genomics research on maize seed mutants.

Settles was recently appointed a co-investigator on the collaborative grant, which includes McCarty, Curtis Hannah and Karen Koch at UF. Hannah and Koch are professors in the horticultural sciences department. Settles is focusing on a class of seed mutants known as rough endosperm mutants.

“These mutants will tell us about the genes required for normal development of both the grain and embryo of the seed,” Settles said. “We are also developing new genomics technologies to improve research for rapid cloning of mutants in maize.”