Newswise — ST. LOUIS, MO – October 28, 2021, Elizabeth "Toby" Kellogg, PhD, Member and Robert E. King Distinguished Investigator, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center recently received the 2021 Asa Gray Award from The American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT). The prestigious award is named after the most influential North American Botanist of the 19th Century and recognizes a lifetime of achievements in plant systematics. 

The Asa Gray Award ASPT's top honor recognizes plant systematists who have cultivated a career that has contributed significant research to systematic botany, while making lasting contributions to their community, profession, and students. 

Kellogg who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences has had a remarkable career in plant systematics, making extensive contributions to the field of evolutionary developmental genetics by using grasses to understand morphological and genetic evolution. Her nomination letters repeatedly emphasized that she has pushed the leading edge of systematics throughout her career. Dr. Lynn Clark from Iowa State University summarized Kellogg's career, stating that "Toby has used the grasses as a model system to investigate fundamental questions of phylogenetics, evolution and development. She has always been fearless in this regard, examining apomixis, species concepts, phylogenetic conflict, morphological and molecular evolution, evolution of C4 photosynthesis, hybridization, polyploidy, developmental genetics and the evolution of development in various lineages of grasses." 

Kellogg’s research and leadership achievements were recently recognized by the United States National Academy of Sciences who elected her a member, one of the top honors a scientist can receive. 

Kellogg has published 136 peer reviewed papers, authored or coauthored three books—which includes the popular Plant Systematics: A phylogenetic approach, authored by Judd and colleagues; Poaceae in The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants; and Plant Genes, Genomes and Genetics, by Grotewold and colleagues. 

Kellogg has had a tremendous impact on the lives of her students. She has trained students, postdocs, and visiting scientists from all over the world, most of whom now are leaders in plant science due to her mentorship. She has mentored 28 PhD, 10 Masters, and 44 undergraduate students. In addition, she has trained 22 postdoctoral scholars and 16 visiting scientists. When reflecting on Toby's role as a mentor, Dr. Lúcia Lohmann of Universidade de São Paulo said, "Toby is an amazing role model, who not only conducted amazing science but always took the time to communicate her knowledge and enjoyment of the natural world to students and society at large." Her former PhD student, Dr. Patrick Sweeney at Yale University, stated while describing Toby's effectiveness as a mentor, "Perhaps the most significant way Toby is effective in this regard is by serving as a role model. Her unwavering professionalism, large and impactful research productivity, and high level of service set a high bar to which all of her students aspire."

Kellogg has actively contributed to her research community, holding multiple leadership roles throughout her career. Notably, she has served as the President of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists from 2003–2006, as well as the president of the Botanical Society of America (2011–2014) and the Society of Systematic Biologists (2000–2003). 

About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education, and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter

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