Elizabeth A. Kellogg is the Robert E. King Distinguished Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where she has been a Principal Investigator since 2014. She is a plant scientist with classical training in systematics, and is best known for her work on the comparative biology of cereal crops and their wild relatives in the grass family. She spent most of the early part of her life and career in New England, and was an associate professor at Harvard University from 1993-1998. She then moved to St. Louis to take up the E. Desmond Lee and Family Professorship at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with a joint appointment at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where she worked until moving to her present position. She holds A.B. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, where she also did post-doctoral work. She has an M.S. degree from the University of Idaho and an honorary doctorate from Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and is an Académica (Fellow) of the Academia Nacional de Ciencias, Argentina. She has served as President of the Society of Systematic Biologists, American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the Botanical Society of America, and as Chair of the Biological Sciences Section of the AAAS.

Research Interests

The Kellogg lab addresses how evolution produced the huge species diversity of the grass family, and how humans can harness that diversity to unlock the genetic potential of cereal crops. Answering both these questions requires a deep understanding of plant phenotypes and the genes that control them. Dr. Kellogg has contributed extensively to knowledge of the evolutionary history and classification (systematics) of the grasses. She has investigated the role of polyploidy in diversification of species, and has led or participated in a number of genome sequencing projects. Together her systematic and genomic studies provide the basic data needed for investigation of the evolution of diverse phenotypes. She has shown that structures and processes that have originated more than once in evolutionary time, such as high efficiency photosynthesis or distinctive floral structures, are superficially similar but developmentally and genetically distinct, indicating convergence on particular adaptive phenotypes. These results guide efforts in crop improvement. Her discoveries of gene function in the flowers and inflorescences of cereal crops and wild species illuminate the power of natural diversity to improve the crops on which the world depends.

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Primary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology