Land & Environment

Professor Jennifer MacAdam Named Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy

By Madison Leak |

Plant scientist, Jennifer MacAdam has been named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

Jennifer MacAdam, professor of plant physiology and forage production in Utah State University’s Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate has been named a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy.

Fellowship through the society is achieved by making outstanding contributions in areas of specialization, research, teaching, Extension, service or administration as well as at least seven years of active membership within the society.

“Being named a fellow is very significant,” MacAdam said of the award. “I’ve had many opportunities to work with other members of ASA and it truly is an honor to be recognized by my peers for my contributions to our industry.”

MacAdam earned her bachelor’s in agronomy from Missouri State University before pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Missouri — Colombia. She continued her research there before accepting a research and teaching position at Utah State University in 1991.

“I had an opportunity to teach at Kansas State as well,” MacAdam recalled. “But I liked Logan a lot and really liked the research that was going on here at the university, so I decided to come to USU.”

Among the long list of her accomplishments, MacAdam has also been nominated as a fellow of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and as a board representative of the society. In 2009, she published a best-selling book in life sciences: Structure & Function of Plants, an overview of the anatomy and physiology of plants. She has authored 88 refereed book chapters, journal articles, proceedings papers, and Extension bulletins. She chaired CSSA’s Forage and Grazinglands Division and was an associate editor of both Crop Science and the Agronomy Journal.

Nominating materials said of MacAdam, “It is indeed rare for a plant physiologist to bridge the science between plant function at a basic level and animal function at a practical level, she has done so with her work on non-fibrous carbohydrates.”

“Jennifer is an amazing colleague,” said USU wildland resources Professor Juan Villalba. “She’s always willing to help and support faculty and students. She has a strong drive for seeking innovation and novel approaches to the science of forage and animal production systems.”

MacAdam began her career at USU studying the effects of frost on pasture grasses at Utah Agricultural Experiment Station research farms throughout the state and continues to focus on forages today. Some of MacAdam’s notable research includes studying the effects of cooler, higher climates on alfalfa hay quality. MacAdam found that warm days and cool nights in the Intermountain West allow alfalfa to grow with less fiber and lignin, making it easier to digest and providing higher energy levels. The goal of the study is to understand how non-fibrous carbohydrates accumulate during alfalfa growth and development. Her work has also demonstrated that tannin-containing legumes in cows’ diets increases organic milk production and has benefits for beef finishing as well. She is also involved in research on maximizing forage production and quality while carefully managing water used for irrigation.

“We’re currently working on a study with reduced-lignin, Round-up ready alfalfa,” MacAdam said. “Our goal is to determine if we can graze beef on this strain of alfalfa, which would change the game when it comes to pasture-fed beef.”

MacAdam is grateful to the colleagues and associates who helped her to this point in her career.

“I’d like to thank those who mentored me and took time to work with me,” MacAdam said. “Our industry is like a big family; I appreciate our community and everything they do.”

In 2009, MacAdam published a best-selling book in life sciences: "Structure & Function of Plants," an overview of the anatomy and physiology of plants.


Madison Leak
College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences


Jennifer MacAdam
Professor of Plant Physiology and Forage Production
Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate


Awards 676stories Faculty 288stories Agriculture 223stories

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