Donald Weeks has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, an honor given to esteemed innovators and inventors.
Weeks, the Maxcy Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, was recognized for distinguished contributions in plant and algal biotechnology and efforts to translate research discoveries into solutions that benefit society.
Election as an NAI fellow is a high honor bestowed on academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating inventions that have made an impact on quality of life, economic development and welfare of society. The 143 people elected 2013 NAI fellows represent 94 universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions. Together, they hold more than 5,600 U.S. patents.
Internationally known for developing a novel approach to engineering herbicide-resistant crops, Weeks’ research will significantly impacted agricultural productivity in Nebraska and worldwide. He identified a soil bacterium that breaks down dicamba, a common herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds. By isolating the gene that inactivates dicamba and inserting a genetically engineered version of the gene into the plant chromosome, his team developed dicamba-resistant soybean plants, giving producers another important tool for controlling weeds, including several that are resistant to the widely used herbicide, glyphosate.
Weeks’ discovery led to an exclusive licensing and research agreement that has supported work to develop other dicamba-resistant crops, including cotton, corn and tomato plants.
Weeks holds 10 United States patents and 22 international patents. A UNL faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry since 1989, Weeks was named an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in 2009.
Weeks and other 2013 fellows will be inducted March 7 at the NAI’s third annual conference in Alexandria, Va.
Weeks’ selection marks the second year UNL faculty members have been named NAI fellows. The 2012 charter class included Brian Larkins, associate vice chancellor for life sciences and professor of agronomy and horticulture; Prem S. Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development; and James Van Etten, William Allington Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology and co-director of the Nebraska Center for Virology.
A complete list of 2013 fellows and their biographical information is available at http://academyofinventors.com/search-fellows.asp.