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In Memoriam: Norimoto Murai

Dec. 29, 2021
Category: Obituary

Norimoto Murai PhD’73, age 77, died November 20, 2021. He was born in Sapporo, Japan, to Nobuo and Hideko Murai. His father was a forestry professor at Hokkaido University where Norimoto earned BS (’66) and MS (’68) degrees. At the University of Wisconsin–Madison under Folke Skoog, he was awarded a PhD in botany/biochemistry in 1973. After postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin, Murai accepted a tenured faculty appointment in plant molecular biology at the National Institute of Agrobiological Resources in Tsukuba, Japan. In 1985 Dean Prentiss E. Schilling recruited Murai to the LSU College of Agriculture, where he headed a biotechnology laboratory. The aim was to invigorate plant biological sciences at the college, as Murai was a pioneer and among the first to discover and apply recombinant DNA technology for improvement of crop plants worldwide. He had a particular interest in rice, a major crop in Louisiana. As a teacher at LSU, he was demanding of his students and guided them to some great successes. His research earned patents for LSU while he published over 50 articles. His meticulous scientific record keeping carried over to his athletic life. Norimoto qualified for and finished three Boston Marathons. He was a biking fixture on the roads wherever he has lived, riding to stay in shape and preserve the environment. In August, a grandson, Aston Akira, was born to son Naoki Oliver and Danielle Cobb in Lafayette, Louisiana. Murai’s widow, Andreana Lisca ’77 is a retired art teacher of East Baton Rouge Parish schools. He was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Yorie Saito.

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