Sheffield scientist’s prestigious award

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A Sheffield scientist has scooped a prestigious prize, for his recent work on photosynthesis.

Dr Matt Johnsonm, a University of Sheffield plant scientist, has won the Society of Experimental Biology’s President’s Medals, for his work which represents a major breakthrough in understanding how plants use solar energy to power their growth, and provide the Earth’s food and oxygen.

The discovery was made using a new technique, known as affinity-mapping atomic force microscopy, which helped Dr Johnson to locate a crucial protein known as cytochrome b6f in the photosynthetic membrane of plants.

Dr Johnson, a lecturer in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, said: “This widely applicable new method provides both a tool to identify the position of specific proteins within a biological membrane and a new means to understand how the two proteins interact – information that could be crucial for other important areas of bioscience such as understanding how defective proteins can cause disease.”

This innovative new technique for studying plants has been praised by the Society of Experimental Biology, which awards President’s Medals to young scientists in four categories each year. Dr Johnson will be presented with the Plant Section medal at the Society’s annual meeting in Brighton in July.

Dr Johnson added: “I am deeply honoured and delighted to be awarded the prestigious SEB President’s Medal for Plant Science.

“The award provides wonderful recognition of my work on photosynthesis in the last nine years since my PhD. It means a great deal to be ranked alongside the many great scientists who have previously held the award.”