After dedicating a total of 45 years of service to Iowa State University (ISU), two genetics, development and cell biology (GDCB) faculty retired in summer 2021. Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor Stephen Howell retired on May 15 after serving at ISU for 20 years, while Professor Philip Becraft retired on June 30 after 25 years of service to ISU.
Howell arrived at ISU in 2001 to serve as the founding director of the Plant Sciences Institute (PSI). After stepping down as director of PSI in 2009, Howell served as division director of the Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, D.C. He left the NSF and returned to ISU in 2011. He was named Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in 2015 and was selected to be a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that same year.
Howell received his bachelor of science in biology from Grinnell College and his Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Howell received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, N.Y., where he became vice president of research in 1997.
Becraft joined ISU in 1996 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and professor in 2009. While in GDCB, he served as the associate chair from 2018-21 and 2014-16. Becraft also had a joint appointment in the Department of Agronomy at ISU.
Prior to joining ISU, he received his bachelor of arts in botany from the University of Montana, Missoula, his master of science in agronomy from Montana State University, Bozeman, and his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, he completed a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow/courtesy assistant professor position in the Horticulture Science Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
During his career, Becraft served a 16-month appointment at the National Science Foundation as a program director for Developmental Systems in the Integrative Organismal Systems Division.
GDCB Chair Yanhai Yin said GDCB’s faculty, staff and students will miss working with these two outstanding leaders, scholars, teachers, mentors and friends.