SIVB Service Recognition/Keynote Symposium Named in Honor of Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

In recognition and gratitude for his exemplary service to the Society for In Vitro Biology for the last 35 years, Robert H. Lawrence was acknowledged and the keynote symposium named in honor of him. Nancy Reichert presented Bob with the award. Her introduction of Dr. Lawrence summarizes his outstanding career:

SIVB Secretary Nancy Reichert with Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

“It is my distinct honor to introduce Bob Lawrence. Many of us have known and appreciated his involvement in the TCA/SIVB, and his tireless fund raising efforts that spanned decades.

His love of plant tissue culture began in 1964 while an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt where he took a cytogenetics course and described the experience as (quote) “a flash of light and love at first sight”. (end quote)

After Vanderbilt he received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Univ. of Georgia and then went to a postdoc at Oklahoma State University. He has worked in private industry for the past 32 years and I first met him 25 years ago while he was Director of Agrigenetics Applied Genetics Lab. He has just retired from UST where he served as Executive Vice President.

Bob loves science and tries to pass this “flash of light” to younger generations of budding scientists.

Around the time this picture was taken (1986), Bob was invited to participate in an Institute of Medicine symposium sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Another invitee was a jr. senator from Tennessee – Al Gore.

An excerpt of Bob’s chapter of the proceedings demonstrates what a business visionary he was 21 years ago (quote) “reports of successful new applications of biotechnology add confidence to the prediction that biotechnology may well be the next key source of competitive leverage at the corporate and international levels, and may be the most important single technological consideration in consolidation strategies” (end quote).

Since that time, he has been instrumental in identifying technologies and establishing alliances between business, private industry and academia to bring those technologies to the marketplace. A great portion of this journey included the SIVB, his “home” for the last 35 years (since 1972).

He has served many roles in the SIVB: our VP from 1990-92, a member of the executive council for 6 years, editor of ExPlants for 5 years, reviewing editor of the In Vitro journal, and fund-raiser extraordinaire for decades.

He was recognized by the Plant Section in 1998 as one of the first recipients of the Plant Fellow Award, an honor he shared with Trevor Thorpe, James Henderson, Dwight Tomes and Martie Wright.

With his stature at UST, he has hob-nobbed with the likes of Muhammed Ali and Steven Spielberg.

But Bob enjoyed hanging out in jeans with “normal folks” just as much.

Bob is a charismatic, generous, kind and gentle man, and our lives are enriched by knowing him.

AND he still is a young scientist shouting (quote) “give me a good quality dissecting scope, a hood, some music, then shut the door” (end quote).

I present to you Dr. Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., my mentor and friend.

Information provided by Nancy Reichert