Faculty Directory

Contact Information

Office:
Life Sciences & Bioengineering Center, 4022
Phone: +1-508-831-5196
Fax: +1-508-831-5936
weathers@wpi.edu

“Plants are so cool! They can do so many things that animals can’t, such as full regeneration from a single cell or from a part of a plant, e.g., a piece of leaf or root. Plus they make so many different, useful compounds or materials. ”

Pamela "Pam" J. Weathers

Working on a project of discovery is the true essence of science. When one of my students shares in that discovery, then the moment is further enriched. My real joy in teaching is doing research projects with my students. Taking the discovery one step further by working with students to develop their written and oral communication skills has, over the years, become more and more exciting to me.

Compared to most faculty, I have three quite diverse research areas: in planta antimalarial drug production and delivery, development of bioreactors for culture of complex tissues and fungi, and algal biofuels. In the first project, we may actually be able to lower health care costs by use of our proposed novel production and delivery method. This is very exciting because it could eventually impact millions of people, especially in the developing world. Our bioreactor technology is now at the stage where it is being examined for use beyond just plant tissues, so that is also new. Algal biofuels offer great potential, but as yet are not adequately studied to offset global energy requirements. Each of these integrates somewhat with the others, and that results in exciting interactions among my students.

Research Interests

  • Artemisinin biosynthesis in the plant, Artemisia annua.
  • Development of an edible artemisinin for use in combating malaria and other artemisinin-sensitive diseases especially in developing countries.
  • Development of bioreactors for culture of differentiated tissues of plants and animals.
  • Production of biofuels from oil forming algae.

Education

  • BS Biology, Marquette University, 1965
  • Ph.D. Botany & Plant Pathology, Michigan State University

Featured Publications

  • Fung PK, Krushkal J, Weathers PJ 2010 Computational analysis of the evolution of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose-5-phosphate reductoisomerase an important enzyme in plant terpene biosynthesis. Chemistry & Biodiversity. 7:1098-1110.
  • Arsenault PR, Vail D, Wobbe KK, Weathers PJ 2010 Effect of sugars on artemisinin production in Artemisia annua L.: transcription and metabolite measurements. INVITED Molecules 15:2302-2318.
  • Sivakumar G, Liu CZ, Towler MJ, Weathers PJ 2010 Biomass production of hairy roots of Artemisia annua and Arachis hypogaea in a scaled-up mist bioreactor. Biotechnology & Bioengineering 107:802-813.
  • Arsenault, PR, Vail D, Wobbe, KK, Erickson, K, Weathers, PJ 2010 Reproductive development modulates artemisinin related gene expression and metabolite levels with possible feedback inhibition in Artemisia annua. Plant Physiology 154:958-968.
  • Yang Y, Xu J, Vail D, Weathers 2011 P Biomass and oil production by Ettlia oleoabundans grown on anaerobic digester effluent from 3 waste streams. Bioresource Technology. In press.

Spotlight On: Current Research

Studies on antimalarial drug, artemisinin, production in Artemisia annua and novel delivery options for developing countries involve biochemistry in plant and translational studies for edible delivery system.

Professional Highlights

  • 2009 WPI President’s Circle
  • 2009 Fellow, Society for In Vitro Biology.
  • 2008 Who's Who among Executives and Professionals, Honors Edition.
  • 2006 Who’s Who in America
  • 2005 Who’s Who in American Education
  • 2005 Who’s Who of American Women
  • 2004 Distinguished Service Award, Society for In Vitro Biology.
  • 2004 Who’s Who: Great Women of the 21st Century
  • 2000 WPI Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship.
  • 1999 International Who’s Who of Professional & Business Women.
  • 1996 Commendation for excellence in IQP Advising at WPI.
  • 1995 YWCA Katherine F. Erskine Award for Outstanding Woman in Science and Medicine in Central Massachusetts
  • 1994 The World Who's Who of Women
 
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