About the 2008 Lecturer | Dr. Ronald Philips

Dr. Phillips is Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota; postdoctoral training was at Cornell University. Dr. Phillips has advised over 60 graduate theses and taught a course in cytogenetics as a faculty member in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics for over 40 years. Dr. Phillips received the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture in Israel in 2007 for “ground breaking research in service of mankind”.

In 1991, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees of the premier International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Other awards include an honorary doctorate from Purdue University, Fellow of AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), ASA (American Society of Agronomy), and CSSA (Crop Science Society of America), the Purdue University Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award, the DeKalb Genetics Crop Science Distinguished Career Award, and the Crop Science Society of America Research Award.

Dr. Phillips served as Chief Scientist of the USDA (1996-1998) in charge of the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program and chaired the Interagency Working Group that wrote the plan for the NSF Plant Genome Research Initiative. He served as President of the Crop Science Society of America in 2000 and Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in 2006. Throughout his career, Dr. Phillips has coupled the techniques of plant genetics and molecular biology to enhance our understanding of basic biology of cereal crops and to improve these species by innovative methods. His research program at the University of Minnesota was one of the early programs in modern plant biotechnology related to agriculture.

He is a founding member and former Director of both the Plant Molecular Genetics Institute of the University of Minnesota and the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute. He has served on numerous editorial boards, edited six books, and published over 140 refereed journal articles, 70 chapters, and 340 abstracts. Dr. Phillips has been invited to teach, present the results of his research, or serve in an advisory capacity at numerous university, governmental, and industrial institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

Dr. Phillips conducts research and teaching in plant genetics applied to plant improvement with an attempt to bridge basic and applied aspects. The research objectives have been to develop and apply molecular genetic information to the improvement of important traits, to evaluate somatic cell genetic systems for manipulating crop species, to develop and use genetic and molecular biological selection procedures, and to develop high-throughput genomic mapping procedures. As Regents Professor and member of the National Academy of Sciences, he participates in addressing University-wide, national, and international issues.