The University Record, October 9, 1995

FACULTY AWARDS: Charles F. Yocum, Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award

An internationally recognized authority in the field of photosynthesis, Charles F. Yocum also is a gifted teacher and an unusually effective administrator.

Professor Yocum’s research has focused on how plants use the process of photosynthesis to liberate oxygen from water. All oxygen-requiring organisms depend on this reaction. It was Professor Yocum’s biochemical breakthrough that ruptured the logjam that had previously stymied efforts to understand the molecular basis for O2 evolution. The oxygen evolving complex of photosynthetic membranes had resisted biochemical approaches until Professor Yocum showed that chloroplast membrane fragments that retain active oxygen evolution could be prepared. He is recognized worldwide as the leader in preparing highly purified, well characterized samples of the photosynthesis oxygen evolving complex.

Professor Yocum is equally at ease with biochemistry as he is with biology and chemistry. It is his masterful utilization of biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, and spectroscopy that has enabled him to play a leading role in the search for the mechanism of the enzymatic oxygen evolution in photosynthesis.

Professor Yocum’s exceptionally productive research career is paralleled by an equally impressive teaching record. Many of his former graduate students are among the leaders in plant biochemistry. His teaching excellence is apparent in the enthusiastic evaluations he receives from undergraduate students, including those in challenging introductory biology and chemistry courses. Both undergraduate and graduate students appreciate Professor Yocum’s lively lectures, which are liberally sprinkled with information about recent discoveries.

During the six years Professor Yocum served as chairman of the Department of Biology, he laid the foundations for the revitalization of the department. Professor Yocum made important contributions to the design of a new undergraduate biochemistry degree program at the University of Michigan.

The winner of the Henry Russel Award for distinguished research and teaching, Professor Yocum also has won several other awards, including research fellowships and visiting professorships. His standing in the international community is exemplified by his election as chair and session chair of several international meetings, including the 10th Anniversary Symposium of the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Solar Photoconversion Program. He has served with distinction on scientific review panels for the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A member of the editorial boards of several journals, Professor Yocum is an associate editor of Plant Physiology, a leading journal of plant research.

Gratefully acknowledging his excellence in scholarly research, exceptional teaching, pioneering efforts in the field of photosynthesis, and unwavering dedication to the University, the University proudly awards to Charles F. Yocum its Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.