Doug Johnson, a USDA scientist at Utah State University, is the 2007 recipient of the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources. Administered by the Crop Science Society of America, the award recognizes distinctive service to the National Plant Germplasm System.
The NPGS is a collaborative, nationwide network of plant germplasm repositories whose central aim is providing seed materials for the preservation of genetic diversity of plants. Using these gene banks, the group, which includes federal, state and private partners, works to improve the quality and productivity of crops to protect the world’s food supply.
Johnson is a plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Forage and Range Research Laboratory on the USU campus and serves as an adjunct professor in the university’s Department of Wildland Resources and the Department of Plants, Soils and Climate. He received the Meyer Medal in a Nov. 6 ceremony during the CSSA annual meeting in New Orleans.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Doug Johnson for more than 30 years,” says Kevin Jensen, a research plant geneticist and colleague at the USDA-ARS lab. “He’s well thought of throughout the world as a scientist and a mentor.”
Johnson, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in range ecology from USU, joined the USDA-ARS lab in 1976. His research focuses on broadening the genetic base of rangeland and pasture plants and providing improved plant germplasm for upgrading private and public lands in the western United States. He has led or participated in 15 overseas collection expeditions, which have added more than 3,500 new germplasm contributions – called “accessions” – to the NPGS and to gene banks of partner countries.
Johnson has applied the principles of plant physiology and ecology in evaluating forage plant response to environmental stresses and developing practical selection procedures for the improvement and restoration of damaged rangelands, says Jensen. His close collaboration with geneticists has resulted in the cooperative releases of 13 cultivars and germplasms for use in livestock production and conservation. Johnson has authored or co-authored 99 refereed journal papers, two books, five book chapters, 92 abstracts and 30 additional publications. He has served on 36 graduate committees.
Johnson is a CSSA Fellow, a Society for Range Management Fellow and an American Society of Agronomy Fellow. In addition, he has received a number of awards, including a USU Professional Achievement Award, a USDA-ARS Special Service Award and USDA Forest Service Certificate of Appreciation for Heroic Action.
The Meyer Medal was established by CSSA as a tribute to agricultural explorer Frank N. Meyer. The award includes a certificate, an engraved bronze medal and an honorarium.