The highest honor given by the Society for In Vitro Biology is the Lifetime Achievement Award. It is presented to scientists who are considered pioneers or highly influential researchers to the science and art of cell culture. They are men and women who have devoted their careers to exemplary research and/or teaching. The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award are selected by vote of the Board of Directors from a list of nominations received and recommendation by the Awards Chair. Eugene Elmore was the chairperson for 2004.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to three scientists at the 2004 SIVB World Congress in San Francisco, California. The Awardees were Dr. Thomas Grace, Dr. Walter Nelson-Rees, and Dr. Trevor Thorpe. Over the next issues of In Vitro Report, each of the winners will be highlighted with an article written by those who prepared the nomination.

Greg Phillips presents Dr. Thorpe with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Trevor Thorpe is a distinguished and internationally recognized plant scientist and academic leader, and the SIVB has had the good fortune to have him as a dedicated member and leader within the society. Trevor was one of the very first plant scientists who joined the Tissue Culture Association, and he has been a faithful member of the TCA and the SIVB through all of these years. He served on the TCA/SIVB Plant Section Bibliography Committee 1970-1972; the subcommittee on Chemically Defined Media 1972-1976; the Philip White Award Committee 1980-1983 (serving as Chair 1982-1983); Program Committee 1988-1990; Chair of the Plant Section 1990-1992; member of the TCA Council 1990-1992; and he has been an active member of the SIVB Publications Committee from 1990 to the present. Trevor received the SIVB Distinguished Service Award in 1995, and became a SIVB Plant Fellow in 1998.

Trevor Thorpe with Prakash Kumar

After serving as a Reviewing Editor for the SIVB journal In Vitro, Trevor became the first Editor-in-Chief for the newly partitioned In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant journal in 1990, continuing through 1998. He established high standards for the journal and set ambitious goals. After serving as a Reviewing Editor for the SIVB journal In Vitro, Trevor became the first Editor-in-Chief for the newly partitioned In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Plant journal in 1990, continuing through 1998. He established high standards for the journal and set ambitious goals.

Dr. Thorpe then became the inaugural editor-in-chief/co-editor of the International Association of Plant Tissue Culture & Biotechnology (IAPTC&B) special issues appearing in In Vitro – Plant as part of our dual society joint venture (1998-2002). Even now, after transitioning that editorial role to Dr. Eng-Chong Pua, he remains on the SIVB Publications Committee as the IAPTC&B’s editorial representative. Trevor has also served as an associate editor, or as a member of the editorial board or advisory board, for several other leading scientific journals including Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture, Plant Cell Reports, Tree Physiology, Phytomorphology, and Physiologia Plantarum. He also edited the Newsletter for IAPTC 1974-1978 while serving as chair of that society, then served on the National Advisory committee for the 2002 IAPTC&B International Congress, and is now serving on the International Scientific Advisory Committee for the 2006 International Congress to be held in Beijing.

There is no doubt about the quality of Trevor’s service to the SIVB and related activities with the IAPTC&B. What about Trevor’s direct scientific impact? He has edited or co-edited six books, he has 184 refereed journal articles, and he has 96 book chapters or invited reviews or conference proceedings. This makes 286 significant scientific publications during his career, a most impressive contribution! He has 107 refereed journal articles alone dealing with aspects of plant growth and organized development, primarily emphasizing organogenesis, including embryogenesis, which detail the structural, physiological, and biochemical bases underlying plant development. Not only does Trevor have an astounding number of publications in this area, but also many of them are seminal works that clearly advanced our understanding of specific plant development concepts. In addition, Dr. Thorpe has 45 refereed journal articles on the topic of in vitro clonal propagation, primarily for woody plants and especially conifers. Trevor’s lab was one of the pioneering tissue culture labs with respect to woody plant and conifer micropropagation.

What about Trevor’s indirect scientific contributions? Trevor may be retired, but his students continue to add to his immortality. Trevor’s lab trained 15 doctoral students, 14 master’s students, 25 post-doctoral scientists, and he served as an external reader on numerous dissertations and theses worldwide. Some of his former students include the renowned Dan Brown, Prakash Kumar, Stefania Biondi, Indra Harry, Victor Villalobos and many more. Some of his post-docs included Eng-Chong Pua, Kee-Yoeup Paek, and Stephen Chandler among others. Trevor collaborated with colleagues from around the world, including Thomas Gaspar (Belgium), Eizo Maeda (Japan), Jenny Aitken-Christie (New Zealand), David Dunstan (Canada and Great Britain), and Oscar Arias (Costa Rica).

Dr. Thorpe is a distinguished and internationally recognized scientist. He started out in Barbados, but he went to India for his bachelor’s degree. He then came to the United States for his graduate degrees, under the direction of Dr. Toshio Murashige. After his post-doc, he landed in Canada at the University of Calgary in 1969, where he remained until his so-called retirement in 1997. Not only did he have a productive scientific career there, but he also held department head and assistant or associate dean positions for a total of six years. He took sabbaticals in France, Belgium, New Zealand, and Japan. He taught workshops in Mexico, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Costa Rica. He is truly an international man about town.

In summary, Trevor has had an amazing career full of scientific productivity and professional service, and has had a major impact on the worldwide community for our discipline and is a truly deserving recipient for this Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gregory C. Phillips, PhD
Dean and Director of Agricultural Research
Professor of Plant Biotechnology, Arkansas Biosciences Institute
Editor-in-Chief, In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant journal