Barbara Schaal currently serves as vice president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, chair of the Division on Earth and Life Studies at the National Research Council and is a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. She is a plant evolutionary biologist who uses DNA sequences to understand evolutionary processes such as gene flow, geographical differentiation and the domestication of crop species. Her current research focuses on the evolutionary genomics of rice. Schaal was born in Berlin, Germany and grew up in Chicago, IL, USA. She graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago with a degree in biology and earned a PhD from Yale University. She has been president of the Botanical Society of America and the Society for the Study of Evolution and is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has recently been appointed as a science ambassador by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.