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Division of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources

Sunkar listed in top 1 percent of researchers in his field

STILLWATER, Okla. – Good work rarely goes unrecognized. Just ask associate professor Ramanjulu Sunkar.
Sunkar listed in top 1 percent of researchers in his field

Ramanjulu Sunkar

The faculty member in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) was recently named to the Thomas Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list for 2014. The list (highlycited.com) highlights researchers who rank in the top 1 percent by citations in their specialized field.

With nearly 6,300 peers citing of his work since 2009, it is safe to say that Sunkar is trending in the research world.

“Dr. Sunkar is engaged in incredibly high quality science and is truly having significant impacts on his field of study,” said John Gustafson, BMB department head. “Our department is extremely proud of him and his work since joining our staff in 2006.”

Sunkar is one of the 3,200 highly cited researchers in the world in the 21 fields of sciences and social sciences, and the first OSU faculty member to earn this acclaimed distinction. His work is in the plant and animal science category, in which approximately 80 plant scientists have been included.

“Our goal for the Division is to continue building on our traditions of excellence. This honor for Dr. Sunkar’s research productivity and impacts gives further evidence that our scientists are achieving those aspirations. I commend him and his colleagues for the recognition they deserve,” said Thomas Coon, vice president, dean and director of the Division of Agricultural Science at Natural Resources at OSU.

Much of Sunkar’s research is focused on drought, salt and heat tolerance in plants using cutting-edge molecular techniques. As the global climate changes, world population estimates continue to rise and available water sources disappear, Sunkar’s research helps identify properties plants possess that allow them to withstand many of the stressors they will face.

Sunkar’s research is a launching pad for opportunities in the biofuel market. Some of his most popular work amongst his peers was his identification of miR156, a molecule in switchgrass, which could improve its biomass production by 100 percent. The potential impacts of this discovery leave little doubt as to why Sunkar is becoming a household name.

“If we have an understanding of it, we can move the technology forward with an educated public and produce crop varieties that can better withstand the stresses that the modern earth is putting on them,” Gustafson said. “Dr. Sunkar is the one creating and describing it to the scientific community so they can latch on.”

With field trials taking place in Tennessee, the results are already taking off.

“I am pleased and honored to be named on this list,” Sunkar said. “I’m also very excited about seeing where this research can take us.”

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