WSU Regents’ Professor Named to Scotland’s National Academy of Science and Letters

PULLMAN, Wash. – Norman G. Lewis, Washington State University Regents’ Professor and director of the Institute for Biological Chemistry, is the newest member of Scotland’s National Academy of Science and Letters.

News of his election to this prestigious academy was announced March 9. Lewis, one of WSU’s premier researchers and a native Scot, is now a Corresponding Fellow to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He joins the ranks of peer-elected fellows working around the globe.

Norman G. Lewis, Regents' Professor and Director, WSU Institute for Biological Chemistry. Click on image to download high resolution version.

“This is a great honor to be recognized in this way, and it is very much a recognition of the work our laboratory group as well as all the staff at IBC have done and continue to do,” Lewis said. “It is also a very great honor to be recognized in this way by the country of one’s birth.”

Ralph Cavalieri, associate dean and director of the WSU Agricultural Research Center, said the recognition reflects the caliber of research Lewis conducts.

“Norman is a world-class researcher who has had a major impact on the plant sciences around the globe,” he said.

Lewis joined WSU in 1990 and has served continuously since as director and Fellow of the Institute of Biological Chemistry. In addition to being a Regents’ Professor, he also is the Arthur M. and Kate Eisig-Tode Distinguished Professor.

He has pioneered the understanding of much of the biochemistry of phenylpropanoids. Much of his research focuses on how land-based plants produce lignin, which help give plants and trees rigidity, but also must be broken down or eliminated before plants can be used for production of paper, fuel and other bioproducts. His research activities also extend to understanding how the related lignans are formed, many of these having nutritional/medicinal roles in either preventing or treating various cancers.

Lewis is widely recognized by the plant science research community as one of the outstanding plant biochemists in the nation.

Lewis also emphasizes that one of the most important factors in such recognition is the people that work with him on the varied research projects. In the past year alone, there were several noteworthy features:

  • Sarah Brewer, a National Science Foundation high school summer intern was awarded a Regents Scholarship to attend WSU, and is now again excelling in the Lewis lab;
  • Cole Graham, also an NSF high school summer student intern in the Lewis lab received a 100 percent score in his SAT exams, and is entertaining admission offers from MIT, etc.;
  • Oliver Corea, a senior Ph.D. student, had the opportunity to present his research work, which was carried out in the Lewis Lab, in a mini-symposium for the American Society of Plant Biologists last summer in Montreal;
  • Kim Hixson, graduate student, has been selected to participate in the prestigious Lindau Meeting where she will meet and interact with 20 Nobel Prize Laureates;
  • Drs. Syed Moinuddin and Kye-Won Kim received special recognition as Arthur C. Neish Young Investigators at the annual meeting of the Phytochemical Society of North America in 2009 and 2010, respectively.