Photo of Folke K. Skoog

Folke K. Skoog

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his pioneering work on plant hormones, including discovery of cyotkinins (a major class), chemical induction of organ formation and regulation of morphogenesis in plants, and contributions to the development of plant tissue culture as an experimental technique of fundamental importance in biotechnology.

Through his innovations in the field of botany, Folke K. Skoog planted a seed that will flourish for years to come.

While working as a researcher and faculty member at the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Skoog and his associates discovered cytokinins – plant hormones used to grow plant cells in laboratories.

Cytokinins have been proven to prevent protein breakdown in plant organs, which slows the aging process. Today, some produce farmers use cytokinins to increase crops and keep plants alive longer.

He may have excelled in science, but Skoog’s interests weren’t entirely academic. At age 24, he represented his home country of Sweden in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games and finished sixth in his heat in the 1,500-meter race.

Though Skoog passed away in 2001 at age 92, his legacy lives on through the discoveries and developments to which he dedicated his life.

By Rachel Warren