In Memory of Winslow R. Briggs (1928-2019)


The American biologist Winslow Russel Briggs (1928–2019) was a global leader in plant physiology, genetics and photobiology. After earning his PhD at Harvard (Cambridge, Massachusetts), he started his independent research program at Stanford University (California). Among many major contributions was his elegant experiment that conclusively demonstrated the role of auxin transport in the phototropic bending response of grass coleoptiles. During subsequent years as Professor of biology at Harvard University, Briggs focused on phytochrome and photomorphogenesis. In 1973, he re-located to Stanford to become Director of the Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution for Science, and faculty member in the Biology Department at Stanford University. After his retirement (1993), he continued his research on “light and plant development” as an emeritus at Carnegie until the day of his death on February 11, 2019. Through his long research career, Briggs stayed at the cutting edge by re-inventing himself from a plant physiologist, to biochemist, geneticist, and molecular biologist. He made numerous discoveries, including the LOV-domain photoreceptor phototropin. Winslow Briggs, who was also a naturalist and gifted pianist, inspired and promoted the work of generations of young scientists – as mentor, colleague and friend.


The last two Members of the Briggs-Lab (Carnegie/Stanford), Dr. Ulrich Kutschera & Dr. Rajnish Khanna (i-Cultiver Inc., San Francisco, CA, USA), cooperate and finish/continue the experimental work of our former PI, Dr. W. R. Briggs. We will publish all relevant data generated by us, and the PI, in the Briggs-lab over the past five years. (see the Plant Biology Tree, W. R. Briggs/Stanford)

Stanford - Papers dedicated to the Memory of Winslow R. Briggs

Kutschera, U., Farmer, S. (2020) Ernst Haeckel, ancient forests, and the Anthropocene. Plant Signal. Behav. 15/2:1719313, 1–4.

Kutschera, U., Khanna, R. (2020) Auxin action in maize coleoptiles: Challenges and open questions. Plant Signal. Behav. 15/6, e1762327, 1–6.

Kutschera, U., Pieruschka, R., Farmer, S., Berry, J. A. (2020) The Warburg-Effects: Basic metabolic processes with reference to cancer development and global photosynthesis. Plant Signal. Behav., 1-10.

Hovingh, P., Kutschera, U. (2020) Two new Helobdella species (Hirudinea: Glossiphoniidae) from the Intermountain region of the United States, formerly considered as Helobdella stagnalis L. 1758. Biodiversity Journal 11, 689–698.

Khanna, R., Kutschera, U. (2020) Arabidopsis: two-hundredths anniversary of its name and the possibility of a hidden universal regulatory signal. J. Plant Biochem. Biotechnol. 29, 575–579.

Khanna, R., Kutschera, U. (2020) Thought experiment: a hidden signal and an etioreceptor. J. Plant Biochem. Biotechnol. 29, 832–837.

Kutschera, U., Khanna, R. (2021) Experimental plant research and the discovery of carbon dioxide-mediated global greening: a tribute to Wilhelm Pfeffer (1845–1920). J. Plant. Biochem. Biotechnol. 30, 407 420

Kutschera, U., Ray, P.M. (2021) Forever young: stem cell and plant regeneration one century after Haberlandt 1921. Protoplasma (in press)


Invitation Letter - November 13, 2018, Stanford CA-USA

Kutschera, U., Wang, Z.-Y. (2019) Light and plant development: the discovery of phototropins by Winslow R. Briggs (1928–2019). Plant Signal. Behav. 2019, VOL. 14, NO. 10, e1652521

Short, T. W., Liscum, E. (2019) In Memoriam. Plant Science Bulletin 65/3, 182-185

Music-Videos dedicated to the Memory of Winslow R. Briggs

Video 1: U. Kutschera: Cathedral of Our Lady

Video 2: U. Kutschera: Piano Concerto c-minor

Recent Research Papers co-authored by U. Kutschera & W. R. Briggs:

Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2009) From Charles Darwin's botanical country-house studies to modern plant biology. Plant Biol. 11, 785 – 795.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2012) Root phototropism: From dogma to the mechanism of blue light perception. Planta 235, 443 - 452.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2013) Seedling development in buckwheat and the discovery of the photomorphogenic shade-avoidance response. Plant Biol. 15, 931 − 940.


Deng, Z., Oses-Prieto, J. A., Kutschera, U., Tseng, T.-S., Hao, L., Burlingame, A. L., Wang, Z., Briggs, W. R. (2014) Blue light-induced proteomic changes in etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings. J. Proteome Res. 13, 2524–2533.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2016) Phototropic solar tracking in sunflower plants: an integrative perspective. Ann. Bot. 117, 1–8.


Kutschera, U., Briggs, W. R. (2019) Photomorphogenesis of the root system in developing sunflower seedlings: a role for sucrose. Plant Biol. 21, 627–633.