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Joint winners for prestigious research prize

Two young scientists working at the James Hutton Institute have been jointly awarded the Peter Massalski Prize for meritorious research.

Eleanor Gilroy and Lionel Dupuy, 2012 Massalski Prize winnersThis year’s award panel were so impressed by the calibre of nominations that they decided to jointly award the prize to Dr Eleanor Gilroy and Dr Lionel Dupuy, who both work at the Institute’s Dundee site. They will be presented with their prize at the annual general meeting of the Scottish Society for Crop Research, who administer the award.

Dr Gilroy works in the Cell and Molecular Sciences group and her research focuses on the Oomycete Phytophthora infestans, which causes late blight in potatoes and costs the industry millions each year. Her group examines how the blight manipulates plants and exploits stresses on plants to enable infection.

Another particular interest of Dr Gilroy’s is science communication to the public and schoolchildren and she has produced an interactive educational resource You Choose the News, which encourages discussion of the issues surrounding GM.

On the prize 32-year-old Dr Gilroy, who originally hails from Glasgow, said: “I am delighted to have been even nominated for this award, winning it is the icing on the cake. I would like to thank the people who took the time out of their hectic schedule to write the nomination.”

Dr Dupuy’s research focuses on plant modelling, making predictions of how plants will grow, how they get resources and how they produce yields. The ultimate objective of his research is the effect on crop yield as roots play a vital role, as the interface with resources in the soil.

A native of France, 35-year-old Dr Dupuy, who works in the Ecological Sciences group, said: “It is an honour to have won the Massalski Prize and I would like to thank the Institute for supporting me and giving me the freedom to conduct my research.”

Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, Professor Iain Gordon said: “I am delighted to announce Eleanor and Lionel as joint winners of this year’s Massalski Prize, which is a prestigious addition to any young researcher’s achievements.

“Both are excellent examples of the world-leading research being conducted at the James Hutton Institute and great role models for other young scientists to look up to.”

The Massalski Prize was established through the generosity of Professor and the late Mrs T B Massalski. It was in memory of their son, Dr Peter R Massalski, who was a member of staff at of the former Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie at the time of his death.

The prize is awarded biennially to the person under 36-years-old, who is considered to have done the most meritorious research whilst working at the James Hutton Institute. It takes the form of a certificate accompanied by a monetary award.