York geneticist Stephen Wright wins Sloan fellowship

Molecular biologist Stephen Wright (right) has won a prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. He is one of 116 scientists across North America to win this highly competitive prize worth US$45,000 over the next two years.

At York, Wright is part of a team of scientists that has identified genes responsible for the domestication of corn – research that will provide important insights in the quest to breed better, higher-yielding crops.

“I’m very pleased,” said Wright, who was nominated by a colleague at the University of California, Irvine. “The fellowship is quite competitive. And the nice thing is it is largely unrestricted.”

He plans to use the extra money to scale up his research into the genome evolution of plants.

Wright, based in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, is the recipient of Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funds for the creation of a new laboratory for the study of plant genome evolution and population genomics at York. The facility is used for innovative research combining computer-based analysis of genomes, collection of genome sequence data and theoretical work.

Sloan Research Fellowships are intended to enhance the careers of the very best young faculty members in specified fields of science. Currently a total of 116 fellowships are awarded annually in seven fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics.

At least two other York researchers have won Sloan fellowships: Diethard K. Böhme, Canada Research Chair in Chemical Mass Spectrometry, in 1974-76; and vision researcher Douglas Crawford in 1996-98.