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Fred Sack

$6,465.00 (raised so far)

About Fred Sack

Professor Fred Sack (1947-2015) passed away on June 30, 2015, after a brief illness. Fred was known for his abundant energy, kindness, as well as his quick and quirky wit. He was a leader in understanding the cell biology and development of plant stomata, the pores mediating gas exchange in plants.

Fred joined the UBC Botany department in 2006 as professor and Head of Botany. Prior to coming to UBC Vancouver, he was a professor in the Department of Plant Cellular & Molecular Biology at Ohio State University. Fred came to plant cell and molecular biology by way of sociology, and he also worked in Prison Health Services in New York. He enjoyed visiting the New York Botanical Garden, which inspired him to pursue a PhD in plant biology at Cornell University in 1982.

Fred’s work on the cellular and molecular biology of stomatal development, genetic regulation of cell cycling, auxin and pattern generation, as well as gravity sensing in plants generated over 75 peer-reviewed publications in top plant biology journals. His influence and stature in the field of plant biology was reflected in invited reviews in Science, the Annual Review of Plant Biology, Trends in Plant Biology, and Advances in Space Research. Fred’s colleagues in Botany and Zoology, many collaborators, students and post-doctoral fellows will remember him fondly.

A memorial service for Fred will be held on August 27th from 2-5 PM at the UBC Botanical Garden reception centre.

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The impact of your support

Fred Sack enjoyed botanical gardens, and that love led him to a PhD in plant biology at Cornell University, and on to a successful scientific career here at UBC. In honour of Fred’s love of gardens and his scientific achievements, the Fred Sack Memorial Fund will support the creation of a moss garden around the Biological Sciences Building at 6270 University Boulevard.

Moss is of special significance to Fred, as some of his early research used moss as a way to examine plants’ ability to sense gravity. Because plants can’t move, their ability to orient their growth to gravity and light is essential to their survival. Fred’s research on moss yielded important insights on gravitropism (the downward growth of roots, and the upward growth of stems in plants).

Your support of the Fred Sack Memorial Fund will help create a moss garden, a fitting and beautiful reminder of his life and scientific legacy.

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Messages of Remembrance

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  • I was very fortunate to have known Fred. His enthusiasm for Botany and research greatly inspired me. I owe all that I have achieved in my academic life to Fred’s guidance and encouragement. Fred was kind, gentle, easy-going and jovial. He would often talk and share a laugh with us when he was in the lab. Fred loved to laugh, and his infectious laughter always brightened the lab, and energized our lab gatherings. Through Fred’s example I learned not only how a good scientist should be, but also what it meant to be a good person. Fred’s passing has saddened me deeply. I miss him greatly. I will always carry the memory of his kind, patient and gentle nature with me.

    Sandra Keerthisinghe, Member of Dr. Fred Sack's Lab
  • Fred was the best cousin anyone could ask for. Funny, smart, able to sing, told great jokes that he than would laugh at with you. I will do miss his phone calls. Thank you for making him a garden. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson, Cousin by Marriage
  • It has truly been a pleasure to get to know Fred. He was a considerable and supportive adviser and friend for me. I will always remember Fred such as a warm, generous, funny, and lovely friend and mentor of my life. Here are some memory with him at Columbus OH. 1st one was taken on snowy day (Dec 22, 2004). 2nd and 3rd one were taken at Neela's home before moving to Vancouver (2006).

    EunKyoung Lee, Member of Dr Sack Lab
  • Prof. Sack was an enthusiastic and humorous person. As a real scientist he spent so much high quality time on writing, discussing and inspiring his students. As a supervisor his amazing and infectious laughter made every one in the lab feel warm and bright. He was also very considerate of other's situation and dis his best to help. I appreciate everything he have done for me and will miss him every day in my heart.

    Qin Lei, A joint cultivated student in Sack lab
  • Fred was my first cousin that I very rarely saw because we lived in different states. He always made it his policy when he was anywhere near Phila or the PA turnpike to call and drop in to visit with us; and fill us in with what he was doing. When I saw that his botany experiment made it on the shuttle, I called him. He said all his friends and relatives were messaging him. He was a very sweet and dear person who was kind and considerate. ( He really did take after his parents in that respect.) I am so glad he visited us last year on his trip to PA. I will always remember him with love. My best wishes to Diane and the family. Audrey Marcus

    Audrey Sack Marcus, Cousin
  • Fred's course on developmental plant anatomy was the first I took as a new graduate student at Ohio State. He was an inspirational professor. On one exam I tried to draw plasmodesmata - it resembled lightening bolts or gnarly tree branches or something. He wrote "looks like Halloween." He will always stand out in my mind as one of the best botany professors I've ever studied with.

    Dr. Brian J. Axsmith, Former Student
  • I just go through his paper, Structure and Development of Walls in Funaria Stomata, Amer. J. Bot. 70, 1019-1030". I was surprised with his knowledge on stomatal movement. How clear was his knowledge about stomatal movement. I have read the whole paper and take many notes. At last I look to the author and tried to find him. I see the sad news which hurt me a lot. Everybody will find him when he/she see a plant and think about it. Harun Rashid Akond, PhD

    Harun Rasid Akond, A new reader of his article
  • I never met Fred in person, but his papers and his incredible scientific thought were ever-present in my career as an undergraduate and graduate researcher. I worked on several mutants isolated in a tmm mutant background, and I think I must have memorized big chunks of all the tmm papers from Fred's lab! I always had a sense of him as a truly thoughtful scientist who investigated things carefully and thoroughly, with an eye for detail and an acceptance of (and curiosity about) phenotypes that were complex or contradictory. I also had the feeling that he was a very nice and considerate person, even though I never interacted with him directly. I was very sad to learn of his passing (much after the fact) and will always keep him and his work in my memory.

    Emily Abrash, Colleague
List of Donors
All Donors
  • James Zech

  • Dian Clare

  • Brian Marcus

  • Xin Li and Yuelin Zhang

  • Audrey Marcus

  • Geoffrey Wasteneys

  • Anonymous & Offline Donations

  • Anonymous & Offline Donations

  • Qin Lei

  • Karyn and Steven Bass

  • Jae-Hyeok Lee & Sunjoo Joo

  • Jane McClure & Michael Stoccardo

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