UC Riverside



Natasha Raikhel


Natasha Raikhel

A Lifetime of Improving Agriculture

Advancing our knowledge of plant processes is much more than a horticultural pursuit. Improving agronomic traits and increasing crop value has worldwide implications. Natasha Raikhel, a distinguished professor of plant cell biology who holds the Ernst and Helen Leibacher Endowed Chair in Plant Molecular, Cell Biology & Genetics, has been doing just that in a long and distinguished career. As Raikhel tells her students, "Plants can live without us, but we cannot live without plants."

Originally slated to be a concert pianist, Raikhel chose biology over the conservatory. The choice was fortuitous for the world, as she enjoys an international reputation in plant cell biology and is one of the most highly cited researchers in the plant sciences. Having contributed to the field of plant biology for three decades, she is a world expert in the area of secretory trafficking, explaining the key role of the vacuole and its numerous functions essential for plant survival. Raikhel is a member of the prestigious National  Academy of Sciences.

Raikhel recognized early the importance of the genomic revolution to biology and pioneered the use of chemical genomics to advance our knowledge of plant processes. She actively harnessing the high-throughput capacity of new multidisciplinary methods, such as engineering modeling tools and computational biology, to integrate molecular information into a more comprehensive "systems biology" view of the organism. Having identified a variety of genes involved in vesicle trafficking, her research has expanded to explore genetic control of cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis.

In addition to numerous distinguished awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Women in Cell Biology Senior Award from the American Society for Cell Biology, the Stephen Hales Prize from the American Society of Plant Biologists, and a Senior Fellowship from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science, Raikhel received the 2008 Faculty Research Lecturer Award. The annual award recognizes superior achievement in research and is the UCR Academic Senate's highest honor. She has served on numerous government and industry advisory and editorial boards, and was Editor-in-Chief of the oldest and most well-respected plant science journals, Plant Physiology, from 2000-2005.

Watch an interview with Professor Natasha Raikhel.

Visit Raikhel's website at the Center for Plant Cell Biology.

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