Natasha V. Raikhel, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Plant Cell Biology and former director of the Institute for Integrative Genome Biology (IIGB), has been named interim editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Established in 1914, PNAS is one of the world’s most-cited multidisciplinary scientific journals, spanning content in the biological, physical, and social sciences, with nearly half of all accepted papers coming from authors outside the United States. With PNAS’ selection, Raikhel joins a distinguished line of former editors, including Nobel Prize winners Linus Pauling and Randy Schekman and is only the second woman to serve in this capacity in the journal’s over 100 year history (she is preceded in service by Maxine Singer).
During her time as IIGB director, Raikhel led the initiative to form the Center for Plant Cell Biology (CEPCEB) with the goal of developing a modern biotechnology hub within IIGB which would include bioinformatics, proteomics, chemical genomics, and advanced microscopy core facilities. These UCR core facilities remain the cornerstone of IIGB’s multidisciplinary research focus and are available to scientists both on- and off-campus.
Raikhel’s research is centered on the study of endosomal and vesicular trafficking to the vacuoles, using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Her study led to a better understanding of the basic biology of endomembrane trafficking, and on the strength of her research findings, Raikhel was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.
Still an active member of the UCR, IIGB, and CEPCEB research communities, Raikhel’s legacy was most recently recognized through IIGB’s establishment of the Natasha V. Raikhel Award in Research Innovation and Science Leadership, with the inaugural award just bestowed in December 2017 to Thomas Girke, professor of bioinformatics and director of UCR’s High Performance Computing Center.
The election of Raikhel as interim editor-in-chief of a multidisciplinary journal covering a majority of topics beyond her scientific expertise of plant biology is a great testament to Raikhel’s academic standing. In addition, this honor serves as further acknowledgment of the caliber of the greater UCR and IIGB research communities, whose scientific influence has secured such profound recognition.