Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 128, Issue 1, pp 3–13 | Cite as

Remembering James Alan Bassham (1922–2012)

  • GovindjeeEmail author
  • Helen Bassham
  • Susan Bassham
History and Biography


James Alan Bassham, known to many as Al, was born on November 26, 1922, in Sacramento, California (CA), USA. He died on November 19, 2012, in El Cerrito, CA. To celebrate his life at his 3rd death anniversary, we present here a brief biography, comments on his discoveries, but most importantly, remembrances from family and friends; we remember this wonderful and modest person who had played a major pivotal role in the discoveries that led to what he would like to call the P(hotosynthetic) C(arbon) R(eduction) cycle, known to many as the Calvin Cycle, the Calvin–Benson Cycle, or the Calvin–Benson–Bassham Cycle. Based on a personal request by Bassham himself to one of us (Govindjee), we refrain from including his name in the cycle—in recognition of his many students and associates he would have liked to honor.


Andrew Benson Melvin Calvin Carbon fixation in plants and algae Martin Kamen Lawrence Radiation Laboratory Samuel Ruben 



We are highly thankful to Leslie Bassham (mother of two of us: Helen and Susan), Glen Bassham, and the rest of Bassham family for historical details and photographs; Frank and Benjamin Bassham for technical help with figures; Kazuko Aoyagi and Edward L. Bennett for providing names of persons in the photographs, dates and contact information; and Arthur Nonomura, and Karl Biel for providing photos in Figs. 4a and 5a, respectively. We are thankful to all those who sent us their tributes. In alphabetical order, they are: Kazuko Aoyagi, Mina Bissell, Werner Kaiser, Sir Hans Kornberg, Vivian Moses, Arthur Nonomura, John Paul, Kenneth Sauer, and Bert M. Tolbert. We are especially grateful to Bob Buchanan for editing and approving the publication of this paper in Photosynthesis Research. We also thank Pamela Patterson of Lawrence Berkeley Lab for help in looking at their archives, and Sanjay Govindjee, of UC, Berkeley, for bringing Helen Bassham and Govindjee together.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Department of Plant Biology, and Center of Biophysics & Quantitative BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Transportation StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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