A straight "A" student throughout her time from through to graduation from in 1971, Dr. Elizabeth Vierling is now a professor at the University of Arizona.
The former Salutatorian and National Merit Scholar went on to the University of Michigan and recieved a BS in Botany. From there she attended The University of Chicago and received a MS and Ph.D. in Biology where she worked on chlorophyll binding proteins of the photosynthetic reaction centers. Her work with Joe Key was a logical transition, looking at the heat stabilization of Rubisco, another essential photosynthetic protein, production of which is dependent on Hsps.
From there she has worked on numerous research projects while being a professor at the University of Arizona. Also during her time in Arizon, she was awarded the Regents Professorship at the University of Arizonia, the highest honor awarded by the University of Arizonia.
She teaches advanced biochemistry and heads a research laboratory supported by major grants from several federal agencies.
Since joining the University of Arizona, she has continued to discover and study both sHsps and HSP100 proteins. She has published 75 or so papers on the Hsps. More recently transcription factors controlling expression of the Hsps have been of interest. An important finding is that there are seed-specific factors that induce sHsps and which appear to protect ungerminated seeds from high temperature. They may also affect seed longevity. Unraveling the control networks for this process is a major challenge.
When not teaching in Arizona, Vierling is currently on detail from the university working in the main office of the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va. There she evaluates applications for research funding from scientists around the country, helping to define the direction of basic scientific research in the US.
Dr. Vierling has served as an editor for JBC, Plant Physiology, Plant Molecular Biology, and Plant Journal, as a member of the executive committee of the ASPP, and as organizer of Keystone and Gordon conferences. In 2004 she was panel manager for the USDA competitive grants on plant responses to environment.
She had sabbatical leaves with Gerald Fink at the Whitehead Institute in Boston, with M. Koorneef in Wageningen (as a Guggenheim Fellow), and currently with Mark Stitt at the Max Planck Insitute in Golm, Germany, as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow.