The Distinguished Scientist Award recognizes outstanding mid-career scientists who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology and/or in the development of novel technologies that have advanced in vitro biology. The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. Allan Wenck as a recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award at the 2017 In Vitro Biology in Raleigh, NC.

Allan Wenck (R) receives the Distinguished Scientist Award from Plant Biotechnology Section Chair, Mary Welter.

 Allan Wenck Received his B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC in 1985. He got his M.A. in life Science from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN in 1988, and received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC in 1996. Allan received his J.D. in 2013 from North Carolina Central University School of Law, Durham, NC.

Between 1996 and 1998, Allan worked as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC and developed an Agrobacterium based transformation system for Norway Spruce and Loblolly Pine.

After he received his Postdoctoral training, Allan joined Industry and worked for three Plant Biotech Companies since April 1998. Between 1998 and 2003, he worked at Syngenta Biotechnology Inc. (Novartis) as a scientist and team leader, leading the international and local quality assurance project for vectors, the binary vector improvement project, and directing the Monocot Transformation group and developed pipeline level transformation activities in maize, wheat, rice and barley, and established methods using fluorescent proteins as tools for developing transformation technologies in multiple crops.

From July 2003 to November 2010, Allan worked as team leader at BASF Plant Science, leading enabling /transformation group for maize, soybean and other crops. Allan was the key person to develop a tissue culture mutagenesis protocol that led to the development of a new, non-GM rice with resistance to multiple classes of ACCase inhibitor.

Currently Allan is the head of Trait Validation leading a team of over 60 scientists covering all aspects of transgenic plant production from vector design through to seed hand off for field study, responsible for joint development of innovation around trait validation including optimizing vectors, transformation of elite germplasm, targeted genome integration, marker free, target gene editing technologies and high throughput analysis techniques. Prior to that, Allan led Cell Biology function and developed and implemented soybean and maize transformation and related propjets.

Allan has authored and co-authored 11 peer-reviewed journal articles and 2 patents.

Allan has also been very active, and making great contributions to the SIVB since he joined this society. He served as VP for SIVB (2014-2016), Jr. Co-Chair Plant Section (2004), Sr. Co-Chair Plant Section (2005), Local Organizing Chair (2017), co-convener for seven symposiums during 2001 to 2017.  Allan helped to raise over $150,000 for the society as Jr Co-Chair and as VP over the years of 2004, 2015 and 2016.

Allan served as an associate editor for In Vitro Plant and Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture and as a reviewer/editor for Crop Science, Plants Science, and Plant Cell Reports.

In addition, Allan also served as Steering Committee representatives for Syngenta at North Carolina Biotechnology Center (2001-2003), and Alumni Board member for Warren Wilson College, and as a host family for American Intercultural Student Exchange (2001-2003).

Having known Allan for nearly 20 years, Dr John Finer said “my interactions with Allan have been scientifically and personally productive. Over the time that I have known him, he is always working and thinking and simply does not rest. He constantly looks for ways to move things forward and improve, whether he is considering himself, other people, the science that we do, his company, or the society.”

Baochun Li worked with Allan at Bayer for over 7 years said “Allan’s knowledge and experience and his vision help shaping today’s biotech industry and the future of agriculture.”

The Society for In Vitro Biology congratulates Dr. Allan Wenck as the recipient of the 2017 SIVB Distinguished Scientist Award.

Submitted by Ming Cheng