Ralph awarded 2020 Groupe Polyphénols Scientific Grand Prize

Photo of John Ralph
Biochemistry professor and energy researcher John Ralph.

Biochemistry Professor John Ralph has been awarded the 2020 Groupe Polyphénols Scientific Grand Prize by the Groupe Polyphenols Society. The award recognizes the contributions Ralph has made to the field of plant polyphenols.

Plant polyphenols play a crucial role in basic research and have broad-reaching implications in medicine, nutrition, agriculture, ecology and industrial chemistry. Ralph and his team of researchers and collaborators boast such accomplishments as delineating plant cell wall biochemical processes and the effects of genetic perturbations on them; developing a number of valuable chemical and spectroscopic methods in use by the world-wide research community; and discovering new components in lignins.

Illustration of mini scientists at work in a giant, colorful lab.
Illustration by Chelsea Mammot, ChemSusChem.

More broadly, they also proposed the hypothesis that lignification is a metabolically flexible process that allows plants to produce lignin polymers – which are critical to supporting plant cell wall structure and function – in a variety of ways.

“They produce an intriguingly varied product,” said Ralph. “It keeps researchers endlessly fascinated, and allows plants considerable scope in dealing with and surviving through the various stresses of their existence – in an environment replete with physical and biological agents intent on eking out their own existence by exploiting them.”

The award was to be presented at the XXX International Conference on Polyphenols in July 2020, but due to the pandemic was instead announced via the society’s website. The conference and award presentation have been rescheduled for 2021.

The winner of the award delivers a lecture at the annual conference and contributes a book chapter to the “Recent Advances in Polyphenol Research” Wiley book series, a series comprising the most recent developments in polyphenol research by leading experts.

The Groupe Polyphénols (GP) society is an international association founded in France in 1972. The GP promotes research on plant polyphenols, stimulates collaboration and exchange between public laboratories and industry, and disseminates information on new advances in all aspects of polyphenol research.