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J. L. Harley Medal Background

Mycorrhizal research has been marked by a number of pioneers whose activities encompassed the latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. However, it was the publication in 1959 of the first edition of ‘The Biology of Mycorrhiza’ that provided the turning point in the history of research in this field. This book by John Laker Harley was the first to bring mycorrhiza and mycorrhizal research to a wide audience.

Professor Harley was a first class scientist who used the most recent biochemical and physiological techniques (including radioactive tracers) to elucidate some of the functional mechanisms of ectomycorrhizas. His approaches, and those of his many students, were always imaginative and rigorous, and served to demonstrate the fundamental importance of the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis. As well as being an excellent experimental scientist, Professor Harley, always affectionately known by his friends and colleagues simply as ‘Jack’, was an outstanding communicator. His enthusiasm for ectomycorrhiza, and his lively lecturing style, stimulated a marked increase in research into other categories of mycorrhizas, including arbuscular and ericoid mycorrhizas, and brought mycorrhizas to the attention of ecologists and plant physiologists. His work set the stage for mycorrhizal research as we know it today and he was instrumental in the development of many scientific careers in this discipline around the world. 

Jack’s series of landmark papers on the physiology of ectomycorrhizas were published in New Phytologist starting in 1950, and from 1961 to 1983 he edited the journal, establishing its reputation as a home for top-quality mycorrhizal research.

Through creation of ‘The New Phytologist Harley Medal’, the International Mycorrhiza Society (IMS) and New Phytologist highlight John Laker Harley’s career as a model for younger scientists to follow. The medal is awarded, at each International Conference on Mycorrhiza (ICOM), to the graduate student who is deemed to have presented a paper which best emulates the rigorous approaches to mycorrhizal research that Professor Harley pioneered during his lifetime. The medal is also accompanied by prize money of £200 (GBP).

Any bona fide graduate student enrolled in an institution of higher learning or recently graduated (6 months before the first date of the international meeting) is eligible. An abstract must be submitted at the ICOM at which the student will compete for the Award. 

Every effort will be made to ensure that each student in the competition has a fair evaluation and an equal chance of winning the award. Oral presentations will be evaluated by a panel of judges and the final choice of the winner will be decided by the IMS Awards Committee. The merit of each paper will be judged on the basis of scientific content (60%) and presentation (40%).

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