ACES researchers among 2019’s most influential scientists
By Lauren Quinn
Nov 25, 2019
URBANA, Ill. – Of the eight Illinois researchers recently recognized by the Web of Science group as Highly Cited Researchers, three are affiliated with the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. They include Elizabeth (Lisa) Ainsworth, Stephen Long, and Donald Ort.
The Web of Science Group, a Clarivate Analytics company, recognizes the top 1% of highly cited researchers around the world and across 21 disciplines. Ainsworth and Long were identified for their cross-field influence, while Ort was recognized in the category of plant and animal science.
Lisa Ainsworth leads the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit, and is a professor in plant biology and adjunct professor in crop sciences. Ainsworth conducts research aimed at increasing crop production under changing climates. Her research uses physiological, biochemical, and genetic approaches to understand the mechanisms of plant responses to air pollution and climate change. A key goal of her work is to maximize crop production in the future.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for the citations to my research. Although I appear on the list, most of my highly cited publications have been written in collaboration with exceptional mentors (including Steve Long and Don Ort), graduate students, and post-docs. I am grateful to all of them for their collaboration and hard work,” Ainsworth says.
Stephen P. Long, Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at Illinois, directs the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) project. His work address the effects of climate change on crop yield, using computational and experimental approaches to improve photosynthetic efficiency in important staple crops worldwide. His groundbreaking work has landed him on the list of highly cited researchers each year since 2005.
“Although these awards are attributed to individuals, it is important to recognize that it is the facilities and environment provided by the university, ACES, and crop sciences, along with colleagues and exceptionally able graduate students and post-doctoral fellows that have made this possible,” Long says.
Don Ort, Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, leads the Genomic Ecology of Global Change theme in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). His research focuses on improving photosynthesis and addresses crop responses to global change factors, including increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature.
“This recognition is made possible by amazing students, postdocs, and faculty colleagues in Crop Sciences, Plant Biology, and the IGB that it has been my good fortune know and collaborate with,” Ort says.
Adam Davis, head of the Department of Crop Sciences, says, “Drs. Ainsworth, Long, and Ort continue a long tradition of excellence in photosynthesis research at U of I. They have provided tremendous contributions to growing crops in a changing environment. This recognition goes beyond the citations to include the education of many graduate students that have been part of their labs.”
Kimberlee Kidwell, dean of the College of ACES, says, “The work of Drs. Ainsworth, Long, and Ort demonstrates how research conducted at Illinois supports the scientific community by addressing the world’s greatest challenges. The concentration of talented faculty and staff at this university continues to amaze me. The passion and commitment these three individuals have for making a difference through their work is truly inspiring, and we are honored that they are members of the ACES family.”