Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics 75th anniversary brings new lecture series, awards
The Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics’s faculty, students and staff have been solving life’s fundamental challenges for the past 75 years.
The department’s collaborative research has helped control human and animal diseases, produce viral-resistant crops and improve environmental cleanups. The educational opportunities prepare students for numerous career paths in the life sciences, including graduate school, medical and other professional schools, and careers in biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Founded in 1947, the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics now teaches more than 5,000 students each year in its biochemistry, biophysics and genetics courses. Thirty tenured or tenure-track faculty as well as nine academic professional track, one research-track and nine joint faculty members are part of the department, with research expenditures of more than $11 million.
To honor past successes and look to the future, hundreds of current and former students, faculty and staff flocked to College Station recently to officially celebrate the 75th anniversary.
Celebrating the 75th anniversary together
At the anniversary celebration, attendees heard about a new endowed lecture series, participated in student awards and presented a tribute to an absent faculty member. Speakers and a student poster session featured the gamut of departmental work, with applications in medicine, agriculture and environmental health.
“In dealing with the molecular basis of life, biochemistry and biophysics underlie everything we do at Texas A&M AgriLife,” said Jeffrey W. Savell, Ph.D., vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, in the event’s opening remarks. “For 75 years this department has moved science forward to improve the health and well-being of the world in which we live. I know the next 75 years will be just as bright for this department.”
Joshua Wand, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor and biochemistry and biophysics department head, highlighted the prominent core facilities for research and teaching, including a top-of-the-line cryo-electron-microscopy resource that will be taking reservations this fall.
“It’s an honor to work with our esteemed faculty,” Wand said. “We have some true rock stars in many areas of the life sciences.”
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics endows seminar series
Some of the “rock stars” in the department are now featured on commemorative plaques in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Building.
Among them is Ryland Young, Ph.D., who retired on Aug. 31 as director of the Center for Phage Technology, University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor and Sadie Hatfield Professor of Agriculture. He now continues to direct his lab as professor emeritus.
The Ryland F. Young III, Lecture in Biochemistry Endowment, announced on Aug. 18, acknowledges Young’s more than 40 years of service as an imaginative and impactful leader of research and education.
Also highlighted at the anniversary celebration was the Greg Reinhart Biophysics Lectureship. The endowed series honors Greg Reinhart, Ph.D., who served as head of the department in 2000-2018, prior to retiring. His tenure was marked by enhanced research efforts and recruitment of new faculty at the department. Reinhart’s own acclaimed research focused on the molecular basis of enzyme regulation.
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