Northern Arizona University's Thomas Whitham receives award for conservation, education


Northern Arizona University's Thomas Whitham receives award for conservation, education  

Thomas Whitham, a regents' professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU), has been named a recipient of the first-ever Frances B. McAllister Award for Conservation and Education by the Arboretum of Flagstaff.

The award ceremony took place during the arboretum's 35th anniversary celebration last month.

“Both personally and professionally, Tom exemplifies NAU’s commitment to excellence and community service,” NAU President Rita Cheng said. “The award is a well-deserved recognition of Tom’s efforts to conserve native plants and plant communities, develop innovative genetic solutions to conservation issues and train the next generation of scientists.”

Whitham is a pioneer in the field of community and ecosystem genetics. He has worked closely with the arboretum to establish the Southwest Experimental Garden Array (SEGA), a genetics-based research platform composed of experimental gardens along the elevation gradient in northern Arizona. The gardens are used to test how various species respond to changes in environmental conditions. The arboretum hosts one SEGA garden, which is also used as part of curriculum for middle-school students.

Whitham, the executive director of the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, has written or co-written more than 250 papers in scientific journal. He has received other awards, including the prestigious Eminent Ecologist Award by the Ecological Society of America — the group’s highest honor — for his outstanding body of work and commitment to teaching.

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