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Susan McCouch, professor in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, is among 84 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the academy announced May 1.

McCouch’s lab investigates natural variation in the rice genus Oryza, focusing on how it evolved, how it is distributed in both domesticated and wild species, how it conditions complex phenotypes, and how it can be efficiently used in rice improvement.

Her lab has pioneered studies demonstrating that low-yielding wild and exotic Oryzaspecies harbor genes and quantitative trait loci that can be used to enhance the performance of modern, high-yielding rice cultivars. That work led to the development of a nutritious red rice cultivar, announced earlier this year.

Héctor Abruña, the Emile M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, was also elected this year. The elections of Abruña and McCouch bring to 62 the number of Cornell professors past and present – including Nobel laureates Hans Bethe (physics), Roald Hoffmann (chemistry) and Harold Varmus (Weill Cornell Medicine) – who have been elected to the academy since its inception in 1863.

The newly elected members bring the total number of active members to 2,382. The NAS also elected 21 foreign associates – nonvoting members with citizenship outside the U.S. – bringing that total membership to 484.

A longer version of this article appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

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