Nancy A. Reichert Elected Fellow
The Fellow Award recognizes current members of the SIVB who have been active members for at least 10 years. A Fellow has made outstanding contributions in their area of specialization or discipline to include research, teaching, and administration in public, government, academic, or private industry activities. Information on additional award winners was provided in the October – December issue of the In Vitro Report.
Nancy’s research at Mississippi State University (MSU) has been to develop organogenic regeneration procedures for plant species unproven in regeneration or whose regeneration procedures were primarily somatic embryogenic. The plant species she initially focused on was kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) that had never previously been regenerated in vitro. She developed an organogenic-based regeneration procedure along with transformation procedures for this plant. Because she advocated an interdisciplinary approach to this research, she was also involved in product development using kenaf as an ingredient. (She said the kenaf-containing bologna tasted terrible.) Soybean, cotton and maize organogenic regeneration procedures were also developed with the cotton procedure being licensed by a biotechnology company. Being an educator, she tries to convey her love and fascination with this area of plant science to her students to help develop future leaders in this Society. She also spends a great deal of time speaking to lay audiences about plant biotechnology trying to overcome the stigma attached to it and to better educate the citizens of Mississippi.
Nancy has spent a large amount of time trying to turn around the declining membership in the Plant Biotechnology Section (PBS), and her efforts have been quite striking. She has also tried to reinvigorate the Section through increased interaction with the members through committee memberships, providing email updates including invitations to attend the PBS Program Planning Breakfast and Business Meeting/Social and reminding them to renew their memberships, and by personally handling membership problems that arise. Meeting attendance by PBS members has increased and attendances at the breakfast and business meeting have increased dramatically. With Dave Songstad’s help in making the initial contacts, she helped spotlight many members’ hidden musical talents by inviting them to perform at the PBS Socials since 2004. As an educator, she has learned that keeping people engaged increases retention.
Nancy is affectionately known as the watchdog of the Plant Activity Fund, and has recovered >$7000 lost to past accounting errors. She also thinks beyond the PBS Section, and has lobbied the Board of Directors, on behalf of the other Section Chairs, to allow them to participate in the Board meetings to get first-hand knowledge of decisions and the direction the Society was going in. She also lobbied, on behalf of the entire membership, to have the Board meeting minutes made available to all SIVB members to demystify the governance process and allow them to stay informed. Nancy also critically analyzed the membership data to determine possible causes for reduced membership renewals and meeting attendance in some Sections.