SLU news

Rishikesh Bhalerao is elected as new EMBO Member

Published: 04 July 2023
Portrait of Rishikesh Bhalearo standing in one of the greenhouses at Umeå Plant Science Centre with hybrid aspen plants standing in front and behind him

The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) announced today the election of 69 new EMBO Members and Associate Members. One of them is Rishikesh Bhalerao, professor at the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at SLU, who is honoured with the membership for his “outstanding contributions to life sciences”.

Every year, the EMBO Council elects new members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of life sciences. This year, 60 new EMBO members from 17 different European countries and nine Associated Members based outside of Europe will join the membership organisation. They will contribute with their expertise to the execution of EMBO’s activities and help shaping the future direction the organisation will take to strengthen research communities across Europe and beyond. The EMBO Membership is a lifelong honour.

With the election of Rishikesh Bhalerao, the SLU Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology, that is part of UPSC, has two scientists who are members of EMBO. The other is Ove Nilsson who was elected in 2016. Rishikesh Bhalerao and Ove Nilsson are the only EMBO Members in Sweden actively engaged in plant research.

“I am honoured and humbled by being elected as EMBO member and pleased to join this exclusive group of international researchers", says Rishikesh Bhalerao. “This election signifies the recognition of our work not just nationally but at international level. The credit naturally goes to all my group members and to the UPSC research environment that have made this possible.”

In his research, Rishikesh Bhalerao and his group investigate how plants adapt their growth to the environment focusing on how this is controlled on the molecular level. They follow two main lines of research. Using the perennial plant hybrid aspen as an experimental model, they study how daylength and temperature control seasonal growth cycles in trees. In the second line of research, Rishikesh Bhalerao’s group studies mechano-chemical control of bending of tissues in plants using apical hook development in thale cress - among scientists better known as Arabidopsis thaliana.

Rishikesh Bhalerao’s findings have been published in high-ranking journals like Science, PNAS, Nature Communications and Plant Cell. After his PhD at Umeå University, he went for a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany. In 1997, he came back to Umeå and joined SLU where he was appointed as professor in 2005. He has been part of UPSC since its foundation in 1999 and as vice-chair of the UPSC board he is actively involved developing the research centre further.

As EMBO Member Rishikesh Bhalerao will join a network of 1900 life scientists and can actively participate in EMBO’s activities. Members participate for example in the evaluation of funding applications. They are serving on EMBO’s Council, committees and editorial boards of EMBO Press journals and also act as mentors for young scientists. All new members will be formally welcomed at the annual EMBO Members’ Meeting on October 25-27 in Heidelberg in Germany.