Personal profile


PhD, 1974, Michigan State University

Professional Information

Don Ort is the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research seeks to understand and improve plant growth and photosynthetic performance in changing environmental conditions such as rising carbon dioxide levels, temperature stress, and drought. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Wake Forest University and went on to earn his doctorate in plant biochemistry from Michigan State University.

Don has published more than 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Science, and has been named a “Highly Cited Researcher" from 2015 to 2022 by Web of Science, a Clarivate Analytics platform. He has served as president of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research (ISPR) and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), who presented him with the Charles F. Kettering Award in 2006 and the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award in 2020. In addition, he has served as editor-in-chief of Plant Physiology and associate editor of the Annual Review of Plant Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and a fellow of both ASPB and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

As the former director of SoyFACE, Don oversaw research in a unique open-air laboratory that investigates how increasing carbon dioxide and tropospheric ozone—and their interactions with temperature and precipitation—could influence crop systems in the Midwest. Today, he leads the Genomic Ecology of Global Change research theme at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) that aims to create more robust agricultural system despite climatic changes. He also serves as the director of research and development for the Center for Advanced Bioenergy & Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), a multi-million-dollar research center that stimulates scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective biofuels and bioproducts. As the deputy director of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), Don collaborates with researchers across the world to develop staple food crops that turn the sun’s energy into food more efficiently.

Honors & Awards

Highly Cited Researcher, 2015-2022, Web of Science
Charles F. Kettering Award, American Society of Plant Biologists
Fellow, American Society of Plant Biologists
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Distinguished Professor Fellowship, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Science Hall of Fame, USDA Agricultural Research Service
2015, 2016, 2018 Most Highly Cited Researcher in Plant and Animal Science, Institute for Scientific Information
Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences

Office Address

1206 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana IL 61801

Office Phone



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