Schnable to Lead Iowa State’s Plant Sciences Institute

February 6th, 2014

Ames, Iowa — Patrick Schnable, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been named director of the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State University, effective Feb. 1.

Schnable received the inaugural Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics in the Department of Agronomy in 2013. The Baker Scholar of Agricultural Entrepreneurship, he holds a joint professorship in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology.

Schnable founded and directs the Center for Plant Genomics, a center within the Plant Sciences Institute. He served as associate director of the Plant Sciences Institute from 2005 to 2010.

“Dr. Schnable is a distinguished scholar in the fields of genetics, molecular biology and genomics,” said Sarah Nusser, Iowa State University vice president for research. “His impressive track record of developing innovative interdisciplinary collaborations and active participation in the emerging field of predictive phenomics will be instrumental in advancing the mission of the Plant Sciences Institute.”

Schnable received his doctorate in plant breeding and cytogenetics from Iowa State in 1986. He worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Germany for two years before returning to Iowa State as a faculty member in 1988. He received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University.

Among a national coalition of researchers, Schnable was instrumental in the effort to reveal the first sequence of the corn genome, and he served as the co-lead author of the paper describing that research in the journal Science. He continues to develop technologies, facilities and resources for next-generation sequencing of plant genomes.

Schnable is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He chairs the Science Policy Committee of the American Society of Plant Biology.

He is only the second permanent director of the Plant Sciences Institute. He succeeds Stephen Howell, who served from 2001 to 2009, and interim director William D. Beavis, George F. Sprague Endowed Chair and professor of agronomy, who has served since September 2009.

The Plant Sciences Institute currently oversees eight centers, with research involving nearly 200 faculty from six colleges and 30 departments. The institute conducts fundamental and translational research and education to provide knowledge and solutions in food production, bioenergy production, sustainable ecosystems and human health. 


Patrick Schnable, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-0975,
Sarah Nusser, Vice President for Research, (515) 294-6344,
Sandy Clarke, Office of the Vice President for Research communications, (515) 294-6257,