Professor Liam Dolan honoured by Royal Society

07 May 2014

© David Fisher

Professor Liam Dolan, Director of the Plants for the 21st Century Institute at the Oxford Martin School, has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Announcing the honour, the Royal Society said Professor Dolan, Sherardian Professor of Botany at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, had made "outstanding contributions to our understanding of the development and evolution of land plant rooting systems".

He was the first to define the precise cellular body plan of the Arabidopsis root and discovered the molecular genetic mechanism governing root hair cell differentiation. He demonstrated that this mechanism is ancient and was the first to discover the mechanism that controlled the development of the earliest land plant rooting systems that caused dramatic climate change over 400 million years ago. These pivotal discoveries, the Royal Society says, "illuminate our understanding of the interrelationships between the development of plants, their evolution and the Earth System".

Through the work of the Plants for the 21st Century Institute, Professor Dolan and his team aim to continue discovering how the diversity of complex rooting systems evolved over the past 500 million years, and apply this knowledge to make agriculture more sustainable.

The mission of the Royal Society is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. Royal Society Fellows are elected for life through a peer review process on the basis of excellence in science, and include Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Tim Berners-Lee.