SEB Bulletin October 2006 - Daphne J Osborne (1925 - 2006)

p6-1.Many older members of the Society for Experimental Biology will be much saddened by the recent death of Daphne Osborne. Well-known for her work on plant hormones and DNA repair, Daphne died in Oxford on June 16th 2006 aged 81 after a short illness. Something of a workaholic, she continued active laboratory research until shortly before her death, leaving a legacy of over 200 research papers (20 of them in Nature) and lasting impression on her students, professional associates and the many people she met and encouraged at countless SEB meetings and other conferences world-wide. Amongst some notable scientific achievements was a strong contribution in the late 1960s and early 1970s to positioning ethylene in its rightful place as a natural plant hormone with key regulatory functions, especially in controlling senescence and abscission of leaves, fruit and shoots. No less important has been her development of the 'target cell' concept as aid to understanding how a relatively small number of hormones can have so many different and spatially separated effects in plants. She was also a renowned authority on seed ageing and DNA repair and, at the time of her death, was involved in a project examining DNA repair in plants affected by radioactive fall-out from the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Ukraine. Her scientific work attracted a number of honours and awards including an Honorary Professorship at the University of Kiev (Ukraine) and Honorary Doctorates from the Open University (UK) and University of Natal (South Africa) and Honorary Research Fellowship from Somerville College, Oxford (UK). Daphne Osborne was an innovative scientist who loved the intellectual challenge of discovery and turning hard-won results into highly readable science that graced the pages of a great many journals and books since her first publication (with RL Wain, in the journal Science) in 1951.

Mike Jackson
University of Bristol