Donald Ort| | USDA/ARS, University of Illinois
Associate Director Donald Ort is part of the USDA/ARS Photosynthesis Research Unit and is the Robert Emerson Professor in Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. Ort’s research ranges from improving photosynthetic efficiency to the molecular and biochemical basis of environmental interactions with crop plants to ecological genomics. He has developed high-throughput imaging chlorophyll fluorescence systems for rapid non-destructive identification of cross progeny and transformants with improved photosynthetic efficiency at the seedling level. Ort also directs the SoyFACE facility, which allows researchers to study crops exposed to future climate conditions within an agricultural field. He serves as the associate director of Plants Engineered to Replace Oil in Sugarcane and Sweet Sorghum (PETROSS), which is funded by ARPA-E. He is also a part of Transportation Energy Resource from Renewable Agriculture - Mobile Energy-Crop Phenotyping Platform (TERRA-MEPP) and Water Efficient Sorghum Technologies (WEST), also funded by ARPA-E. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Wake Forest University and his doctorate in plant biochemistry from Michigan State University. He served as president of International Society of Photosynthesis Research, the International Association of Plant Physiology, and the American Society of Plant Biologists. He also served as editor-in-chief of Plant Physiology and associate editor of Annual Review of Plant Biology. Ort has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being listed as one of Thomson Reuters’ “Most Influential Scientific Minds.” He has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers in journals that include Science.