Montgomery, Thomashow invested as MSU Foundation Professors

Published March 24, 2017

Beronda Montgomery (left) and Michael Thomashow (right) pose with MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt following their MSU Foundation Professor investiture ceremony.

Michigan State University’s Beronda Montgomery and Michael Thomashow were honored as MSU Foundation Professors on March 23 at an investiture ceremony held at MSU’s Wharton Center.

The professorships, established in 2014, are part of an initiative to attract and retain highly successful faculty members. Each of the recipients receives five years of supplemental research support and holds the MSU Foundation Professor designation permanently.

“We are very fortunate to have these two extraordinary faculty members as part of our NatSci team,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, College of Natural Science (NatSci) dean. “Their research productivity, innovative thinking, quality teaching and leadership place them at the very top of their fields. Their distinction as MSU Foundation Professors is well-deserved.”

Montgomery, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and microbiology and molecular genetics in the College of Natural Science, and a member of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, is conducting pioneering research that seeks to understand dynamic molecular processes utilized by photosynthetic organisms for adapting to changes in their photoenvironment.

Montgomery received her Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of California, Davis. Prior to joining MSU in 2004, she was an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship recipient at Indiana University. Montgomery has published 75 papers, reviews and book chapters. She has received numerous honors and awards which include being named an NSF CAREER Award recipient, a fellow of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Program, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor Competition finalist. She is currently a reviewing editor for Frontiers in Environmental Toxicology and an editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor and founding director of the MSU Plant Resilience Institute, is world-renowned for identifying regulatory pathways controlling freezing tolerance in model and agriculturally important plants. He holds joint appointments in the NatSci Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Thomashow is also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist.

Thomashow received his A.B. in bacteriology and his Ph.D. in microbiology from UCLA. Prior to joining MSU in 1986, he was on the faculty in the Department of Microbiology at Washington State University and was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund Research Fellow in Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Thomashow has published more than 125 research articles on his work and is one of the most highly cited researchers in his field. His many honors and achievements include being elected to the U.S. National Academies of Science, being named a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Society of Plant Biologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and being named recipient of the American Society of Plant Biologists’ Steven Hales Prize.

These scientists join 25 other MSU researchers who have been named MSU Foundation Professors over the past three years (2014-2016), and brings the total number of NatSci MSU Foundation Professors to 15.