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. Harold Trick as a recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award at the 2019 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Tampa, FL.


Dr. Harold Trick was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) at the 2019 In Vitro Biology Meeting in Tampa, FL.  Dr. Trick received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and his Master of Arts degree in Biology from the State University of New York (Binghamton, NY) in 1985 and 1989, respectively.  He received his Ph.D. in Biology form Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) in 1995.  Dr. Trick then accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Ohio State University (Wooster, OH) with Dr. John Finer.  In 1998, he accepted a faculty position at the level of Assistant Professor to lead the Plant Transformation Laboratory at Kansas State University, which focuses on plant tissue culture, transformation and molecular biology of wheat, soybeans, and maize.  In 2004 he received tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor, and was promoted to Professor in 2010.

Active membership and participation in professional societies has been a cornerstone of Dr. Trick’s career. This includes the Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society, and American Phytopathological Society.  His primary professional society has been the SIVB, since he first attended the annual meeting in 1994.  He has held a number of leadership positions within SIVB, and these include Secretary on the Board of Directors (2016 – 2020), Program Chair (2016), Plant Biotechnology Section Chair (2912-2014), Plant Program Chair (2003), and multiple years on the Plant Program Committee.  In 2015, the SIVB recognized both his contributions to in vitro biology and service to the society with the SIVB Fellow Award.

Dr. Trick has 68 professional publications in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Genetics, Science, and several other high-impact journals.  He has authored 5 book chapters in the areas of his expertise, including the 2019 book “Transgenic Plants: Methods and Protocols,” in which he contributed the chapter titled “Biolistic Transformation of Wheat.”  Additionally, he has contributed several conference proceedings, non-technical articles about biotechnology, and given many invited lectures, seminars and symposia.   Dr. Trick is also listed as an inventor on 8 patents.

In addition to his SIVB service, he also serves on a number of grant panels, serving twice as panel manager for the USDA Business Innovation Research Program.  He has also been active with the CRES-Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research and SBIR review panels on a number of occasions.  At the University level, Dr. Trick has served in numerous leadership capacities including the Kansas State University Biosafety Committee, the 5-year Review Committee for the Associate Director for Research and Technology Transfer at Kansas State University, and as Chair of several Faculty Search Committees in the Departments of Plant Pathology and Horticulture.

Dr. Trick is world renowned for his achievements in plant science. A few of his most notable contributions include the development of Sonication-Assisted Agrobacterium Transformation (SAAT) with Dr. John Finer (U.S. Patent # 5,693,512),  Composition and methods for controlling Plant Parasitic Nematodes (U.S. Patent # 7,803,984), and his most recent 2018 issued patent, Plant Germplasm Resistant to RNA Viruses (U.S. Patent #9,909,139 B2).  Dr. Trick is often on the leading edge of technologies used in wheat and soybean as evidenced by his publication record. This includes using CRISPR in wheat (Cruz et al., 2014), microRNAs in soybean (Tian et al., 2018), and RNAi in wheat (Cruz et al., 2014) and soybean (Li et al., 2010).  He also values the SIVB journal In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Plant, as evidenced by five contributions including ground breaking work on heat-stress tolerance in wheat (Tian et al., 2018), virus resistance (Cruz et al., 2014), Hornworm resistance in soybean (Onatowski et al., 2004), advances in wheat transformation (Janakiraman et al., 2002), and Ohio buckeye (Trick and Finer, 1999).  Over the years, Dr. Trick has organized several meeting sessions and given several oral presentations at the annual SIVB meeting.  He also regularly encourages his post-docs and graduate students to present their research at the annual SIVB meeting as talks or poster presentations.

It is clear that Dr. Trick strives for excellence in his research program and collaborations, and his appointment at Kansas State University is 80% research.  In addition, he is also a dedicated teacher, and teaching accounts for 20% of his appointment.  At Kansas State University he teaches a lower level graduate/high level undergraduate course in Biotechnology (PPTH 610). His course regularly draws students from Plant Pathology, Agronomy, and Animal Science.  While he teaches this course yearly, he is constantly revising it in order to be relevant to the students in any given semester, as well as using fun and innovative class projects to engage the students. On a scale of 1 -5, Dr. Trick is regularly rated by his students as 4.5+.  He is also greatly committed to outreach, and has given 17 talks in the past several years to diverse audiences including military personnel, international guests at Kansas State University, as well as master gardeners in rural portions of the state.  Dr. Trick is committed to engaging the private sector in his work and regularly interacts with university connected, private companies seeking to broaden and establish new collaborations.  In his service role, Dr. Trick is credited at approximately 10% beyond his regular appointment, and this is due to his outreach activities and his work in professional societies, including the SIVB.

Finally, Dr. Trick takes a great deal of pride and time to mentor other scientists.  Over the course of his career he has mentored 12 graduate students, 8 post-docs, 18 undergraduate students and 5 scientists.  As one of his former graduate students (graduation in 2015), I have continued to receive regular phone calls and emails to help me make the transition into a first faculty position at Montana State University (2015-2018) and now at Kansas State University.  Often, when I talk with colleagues, they are surprised that I have a mentor who is still providing active mentorship.  However, anyone who interacts with Dr. Trick at meetings knows that he genuinely cares about students and their early career professional successes.  He can be seen talking with students at posters sessions even after the sessions have ended.  During those times he is often suggesting ideas, asking challenging questions or offering helpful advice. This is not the type of excellence in research, teaching, and service that shows up on a curriculum vitae, but it contributes to the type of excellence that ultimately makes Dr. trick worthy of receiving the 2019 SIVB Distinguished Scientist Award.

Submitted by Jessica L. Rupp, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Wheat Pathologist
Kansas State University