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Last modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2002

IU biologist named one of world's 15 leaders in plant and animal science

The Institute for Scientific Information has identified Jeffrey D. Palmer, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology at Indiana University at Bloomington, as one of the top 15 researchers worldwide in the field of plant and animal science.

ISI will honor the top 15 scientists in this field at a reception in New Orleans, La., on April 22.

ISI Essential Science Indicators was the evaluation tool used to identify the top researchers. The method is based on total citations to research papers from 1991 through November 2001. ISI Essential Science Indicators permits users to rank the performance of scientists, institutions (universities, corporations, government laboratories), countries and journals in 22 specific fields. Many scholars have found citation data to be a significant way to measure research performance.

More information on ISI is available at

"Jeffrey Palmer is considered by many to be the world leader in evolutionary genomics, and he has made landmark discoveries in areas as diverse as plant phylogeny and intron evolution. I can think of no one who has contributed more to our understanding of how eukaryotic genomes evolve and interact," said Loren Rieseberg, Class of '54 Professor of Biology at IU.

"Palmer has influenced the fields of plant phylogeny and molecular evolution by training many of the leading practitioners in these areas. He almost singlehandedly created the rapidly growing field of molecular plant systematics. Results from his lab have had a major impact on our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of the flowering plant subclass Asteridae, the origin of land plants from green algae, and the origin of chloroplasts from cyanobacteria.

"More recently, he has extended his focus to major questions of eukaryotic molecular phylogeny. Important outcomes from this work include the discovery of a surprisingly close relationship of animals and fungi, and the development of search engines for screening databases for particular kinds of mutations that might be phylogenetically informative.

"He discovered the first intron from eubacteria and showed that this is the most ancient intron known, occurring both in plastids and their cyanobacterial ancestors. He has marshaled substantial evidence in favor of the theory that most or all eukaryotic spliceosomal introns are of relatively recent, insertional origin."

More information about Palmer's research is available at

Palmer's honors include a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1985, the international David Starr Jordan Prize in 1990, a Special Creativity grant extension from the National Science Foundation in 1991, the Wilhelmine Key Award from the American Genetics Association in 1998, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999, and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.