Institute for Integrative Genome Biology

Keen Endowed Fund

Noel T. and Diane Ill Keen Endowed Fund

The Noel T. and Diane Ill Keen Endowed Fund was established to support a lecture series highlighting the academic purpose of the Institute, and specifically, work related to plant cell biology, plant pathology or molecular plant biology. Each year, the Center for Plant Cell Biology sponsors an annual special seminar and awards ceremony featuring invited leading scientists in their fields.  The special annual seminar is now titled the Noel T. Keen Lecture after one of the first supporters and members of CEPCEB, whose work provided the scientific foundation for breeding or genetically engineering plants with disease resistance. Recently, Dr. Keen's wife, Diane, generously decided to establish an endowment to help support these seminars.

The Noel T. Keen lecture series has been an overwhelming success, attracting crowds that each year fill the venue to capacity. Previous lecturers (and award recipients) are listed on the CEPCEB Award Fund Chart, and also below:

  • 2003: Frederick M. Ausubel; Harvard Medical School
    Title: Evolutionary Conservation of Innate Immune Response Pathways
  • 2004: Jeff Dangl; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Title: Molecular Control of Plant-Pathogen Interactions
  • 2005: Chris Somerville; Carnegie Institution of Washington/Stanford University
    Title: Genetic Dissection of Cell Wall Structure and Function
  • 2006: Joanne Chory; Salk Institute for Biological Studies
    Title: Molecular Mechanisms of Steroid Hormone Signaling in Plants
  • 2007: Bernard O. Palsson; University of California, San Diego
    Title: The Genetic Basis for Adaptation
  • 2008: Gloria Coruzzi; New York University
    Title: A Systems Approach to Nitrogen Regulatory Networks and the Virtual Plant
  • 2009: Joseph R. Ecker; Salk Institute for Biological Studies
    Title: Sequencing Across the Genome/Phenome Divide
  • 2010: Philip N. Benfey; Duke University
    Title: Development Rooted in Interwoven Networks
  •  2011: Rob Martienssen; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
    Title: RNAi, Heterochromatin Reprogramming and Germ Cell Fate in Arabidopsis
  • 2012: James Carrington; Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
    Title: RNA Silencing Mechanisms and Interactions in Plants 
  • 2013: Elliot Meyerowitz: California Institute of Technology
    Title: Tissue Mechanics and Tissue Shape Control Cell-Cell Signaling and Morphogenesis in a Plant Stem Cell Niche
  • 2014: Eva Benkova: Institute of Science and Technology, Austria (IST Austria)
    Title: Hormonal Regulation of Root system Architecture
  • 2015: Pamela J. Green: University of Delaware
    Title: Hormonal Regulation of Root System Architecture


Noel Keen image

Eminent Scientist and CEPCEB Member


  • Credit card donations can be made by using UCR’s Online Gift Form, automatically designating the Noel T. and Diane Ill Keen Endowed Fund.
  • Check or money orders can be made payable to the UC Riverside Foundation.  Please specify that your contribution should go to the IIGB Innovation Fund and mail it to:

Office of Development
University of California
257-A Highlander Hall
Riverside, CA  92521


A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Noel spent his entire academic career at UCR. He joined the UCR community in 1968, having earned his degrees in botany and plant pathology at Iowa State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.  He earned a stellar reputation with research that examined how plants recognize disease agents or pests, a trait that can be implanted in other crop varieties to boost food supplies. Along with former UCR biochemists Fran Jurnak and Marilyn D. Yoder, Noel discovered a new bacterial enzyme responsible for rot in potatoes, tomatoes, apples and tropical plants.

Noel,  holder of the Johnson Endowed Chair in Molecular Biology, chaired the UCR Department of Plant Pathology from 1983 to 1989.  He served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals and as keynote speaker at numerous conferences. At the time of his death, Noel was also serving as President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), an international scientific organization devoted to the study of plant diseases and their control.

His innovative work influenced the research directions of many laboratories worldwide. His research showed that plants have chemical recognition systems, much like animals have immune systems, which trigger a defense response. His work provides the scientific foundation for breeding or genetically engineering plants with disease resistance, which will reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Noel was UCR's 1996 Faculty Research Lecturer, the highest honor granted by the campus for research. He had more than 170 technical publications, a string of honorary titles and a legacy of training accomplished graduate students.

The Institute for Integrative Genome Biology is extremely appreciate of Diane Keen's generous support, and are honored to name the Center for Plant Cell Biology's most special lecture in memory of Dr. Noel Keen's significant contribution to the world of science and the mission of IIGB/CEPCEB.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director