Nathan Springer, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology, was named a McKnight Presidential Endowed Professor this spring. Springer is one of the top investigators in his field widely recognized for his research on the molecular sources of variation within a species and to connect this heritable variation with changes in phenotype in maize.
“Nathan leads the international research community in understanding how chromosome structure gives rise to variation in the field,” says maize genetics expert Ed Buckler, a National Academy of Sciences member.
Springer has made seminal research contributions on three fronts says Gary Muehlbauer, head of the Department of Plant Biology: The genetic basis of heterosis, the role of epigenetic phenomenon in altering gene expression and silencing transposons in maize, and the causes and consequences of structural variation in maize. “He is highly deserving of this recognition,” says Muehlbauer, “and I look forward to more groundbreaking work in the years ahead.”
Springer’s contributions span research, education, professional service and academic leadership. He teaches a highly rated undergraduate genetics course, served as a peer reviewer for more than 150 papers and as editor of two major journals in the field, and he was director of the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute for five years.
“Nathan’s efforts to illuminate maize epigenetics have important implications for agriculture and food security,” says Dean Valery Forbes. “He is a gifted investigator and we are so fortunate to benefit from his prodigious talents as a researcher, a leader in his field, and an educator and mentor who inspires many others.”
Recipients of the McKnight Endowed Professorship are selected based on their academic and research accomplishments, and their contributions to advancing the University among its peers. Springer joined the College of Biological Sciences faculty in 2003.