• Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

UM Biologist Named to Science News Magazine’s Scientists to Watch List

UM Biologist Named to Science News Magazine’s Scientists to Watch List
Marjorie Weber

evolutionary ecologist at the University of Michigan Marjorie Weber Included in Science News magazine’s annual Scientists to Watch list, which recognizes 10 young researchers “for their potential to shape the science of the future.”

Weber is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. According to Science News, she is recognized for her “passionate exploration of great biological mysteries, including a focus on how cooperation drives evolution and biodiversity.”

An article about Weber in Science News highlights her work on extrafloral nectaries and their role in attracting ants that resist invasion, and how such features may have promoted plant diversification. Extrafloral nectaries are nectar-secreting glands separate from the flowers of a plant.

The Science News article mentions Weber’s research on how well college biology textbooks represent diverse scientists and her work on Project Biodiversity, which aims to make biology education equitable and inclusive.

“I am delighted to recognize Marjorie in this way,” said Patricia Wittkopf, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “She is a brilliant scholar advancing our understanding of ecology and evolution, and working to change the face(s) of science through her work in science education and outreach. She is quite the ‘scientist to watch,’ and we are fortunate to have her as a member of the EEB at UM.

Weber joined the UM faculty in 2022. She received her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 2014 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Population Biology from 2014 to 2016. He was an assistant professor of plant biology at Michigan State University. From 2016 to 2022.

“I am absolutely delighted to have SN 10 on the scientists’ must-watch list for 2023,” Weber said. “Being recognized for my ability to shape the science of the future fills me with deep excitement and responsibility. I am extremely grateful for this recognition. It is humbling and inspiring to be included in such an extraordinary group of talented individuals.

In his research, Weber asks how the complex interactions that plants have developed with animals have shaped the production and maintenance of biodiversity on Earth.

“Ultimately, I try to apply lessons from plant-animal interactions to long-term biological mysteries, such as how closely related species coexist over time and space, and environmental factors that shape patterns of species survival and extinction globally,” she said.

Weber was equally interested in science education, particularly in precise and inclusive methods of teaching biology.

“When I was a child I never believed that I would become a scientist. Despite my early love of animals and plants, I had never seen or heard of an example of a woman with a scientific career,” she said. “My journey to becoming a scientist was made possible by the support of dedicated teachers and mentors who worked to break down stereotypes about what it means to be a scientist.

“Now, as a full-time scientist and faculty member at the University of Michigan, I want U of M students to be able to become a scientist, regardless of their background – and I am deeply committed to working to equalize science education. And accessible nationwide.

For the eighth year, Science News 10 spotlights 10 early- and mid-career scientists “on the path to widespread acclaim.” Each scientist on the SN 10 Scientists to Watch list was selected by a committee of science news writers and editors—many of whom are experts in their fields—for their potential to impact science.

Science News is published by the Society for Science and has reported on the latest discoveries in science, technology and medicine since 1921.

Related story: Marjorie Weber explores plant-protecting ants and other wonders of evolution

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