John McKay, Monfort Professor and associate professor of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at Colorado State University, will deliver the inaugural Monfort Professor Lecture, 4-5 p.m. Monday, April 28, in Natural Resources Building Room 113. His talk, “Understanding and Facilitating Adaption to Climate in Plants” will focus on understanding how plant populations adapt to local climate and how such adaptations can be applied to crops and natural plant populations.
McKay hopes to attract the next generation of scientists to work on this important problem, just as he became interested in the theoretical nature of genetics and evolution as an undergraduate.
“Many undergraduates do not consider Agricultural Sciences to be an option for an exciting career in research,” said McKay.
A recent report on “Agricultural Preparedness and the Agricultural Research Enterprise” by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology noted that “the best students, particularly in the natural sciences, do not view agriculture or agriculture-related research as an attractive career option.” McKay believes that the time is right to change these attitudes and that revolutionary advances in genomics, molecular biology, and biotechnology will spark new interest in plant genomics and breeding.
McKay’s research focus is in plant biology. Early in his career, he made significant contributions to plant biology, particularly in the area of plant adaptation. He has integrated his expertise in the fundamentals of plant ecology, physiology and evolution with studies that address plant adaptation to climate. His research has led to breakthroughs in the development of drought stress tolerance mechanisms, which respond to the critical problem of drought for agriculture both in the United States and around the world.
Throughout his career, McKay has been a featured speaker at numerous events including the Keystone Meeting on Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance Mechanisms, the 8th Annual Ecological Genomics Symposium, and the Gordon Conference on Evolutionary and Functional Genomics. He also was a Wenner-Gren Foundation Fellow in Sweden and the winner of the Community Science Outreach Award.
About the Monfort Professors
The Monfort Family Foundation established the Monfort Professors Program to help CSU recruit and retain talented faculty members. Each year, two faculty members are selected as Monfort Professors by a committee appointed by the Provost. They retain this designation for two years, and receive $75,000 per year to further their teaching and research. CSU faculty members have continually achieved tremendous results with the funding. Monfort Professors describe the award as “powerful,” “invaluable,” and “transformative.” This award transcends the limitations of other funders and allows CSU’s most innovative young faculty members to propel their careers and greatly strengthen CSU in the process. The Monfort Professorship also touches hundreds of others, such as postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, lab partners, and others, by advancing their studies and careers.