Illinois Plant Biology is home to some of the world's most highly cited researchers and boasts world-class facilities for research in the areas represented at right. Our department was recently ranked #3 among US Plant Biology departments by Academic Analytics.

Physiology & Development icon

Physiology &


Systematics & Evolution icon

Evolution &


Biochemistry & Genetics icon

Genetics &


Ecology & Climate Change

Ecology &
Climate Change


Congratulations to...

TR-ISIFaculty member Stephen Long, KristinBfor his recognition by Thomson-Reuters ISI as one of the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds for 2014.


Recent graduates Paul Nabity and Clare Casteel on their new positions as Assistant Professors at Washington State University and UC Davis, respectively.

Graduate student Kristen BishopKristinB, for winning a 2014 ARCS Scholar Award, the first for any Illinois Plant Biology graduate student!

BeckySGraduate student Rebecca Slattery on her Ph.D.and successful defense of her thesis entitled "Analyzing variation in plant canopy conversion efficiency and assessing canopy and leaf photosyntheic efficiency in soybean with reduced chlorophyll content" under Don Ort.

LynnMGraduate student Lynnicia Massenburg for winning both a University of Illinois Graduate College Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to work toward her Ph.D. under Steve Long.


ColinWe mourn the loss of our beloved colleague, COLIN WRAIGHT, who passed away on July 10, 2014 at the age of 68. Colin will be remembered for his exquisite combination of intellect, wit, modesty and generosity. Throughout his nearly 40 year research career in protein biophysics at Illinois, Colin delighted in uncovering secrets of protein-mediated transfer of protons and electrons in energy conversions occurring in chloroplasts, mitochondria and bacteria using state-of-the-art technologies from genetic engineering to spectroscopy. Colin was treasured by all as a kind, creative and unerringly sensible colleague in the laboratory, in the classroom and in routine institutional matters. Characteristically sitting front and center in seminar audiences, Colin would invariably lead off the question period with an acutely incisive query for the speaker, never to call attention to himself, but simply to satisfy his urgent curiosity about biological mechanisms at all levels. Our hearts go out to Colin's family and all who knew and loved him. Read Govindjee's Tribute to Colin here.

Corn&FarmOZONE: INVISIBLE ENEMY OF AGRICULTURE. Since when is ozone an "enemy"? Aren’t we concerned about a “hole in the ozone layer”? Don’t we need ozone? Well, yes and no. An NSF-sponsored project led by Plant Biology faculty Lisa Ainsworth and Andrew Leakey seeks to genetically prepare the nation’s corn crop for rising ozone levels here on the ground. Read more here.

BUMPER CROP OF NEW COLLEAGUES. Illinois Plant Biology has had the exceptionally good fortune to grow by four new faculty members over the past several months. We are delighted to welcome Drs. Wendy Yang, James O'Dwyer, Jessica Conroy and Amy Marshall-Colon. Wendy's specialty is terrestrial biogeochemistry. Her research focuses on mineral -- mainly nitrogen-- cycling in a changing climate, using tracers and stable isotopes. James is a theoretician fascinated by parallel patterns emerging from diverse JCthumb ecological contexts. He has worked with microbial communities, population dynamics, biodiversity modeling and community structure. Jessica uses past climate data gleaned from geographically diverse lake sediments to understand AMCthumband predict future climate scenarios. Her research has taken her from the Galápagos to the Tibetan plateau. Amy, our department's newest addition, is a systems biologist. She uses genomics, metabolomics and epigenomics to investigate interactions between primary and secondary metabolism.

PhysIconTHE RIPE INITIATIVE TO INCREASE PHOTOSYNTHETIC EFFICIENCY. Genetic engineers are busy modifying plant genomes in all sorts of creative and profitable ways. But what about simply trying to enhance the fundamental process for which all life -- including human survival -- relies on the green kingdom: Photosynthesis. A team led by Don Ort and Steve Long is giving it a promising shot under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An early product of the effort is a computational modeling study, in collaboration with Illinois civil engineering colleague Praveen Kumar, reporting that soybeans can be bred to simultaneously (1) optimize productivity, (2) minimize water demand and (3) increase plant light reflectivity to reduce global warming. Click for the RIPE story, the soybean modeling trifecta news story and its associated research paper.

Browse our Scrapbook for other recent Happenings.