April 12, 2017
Missouri’s James Birchler Named 2017 SEC Professor of the Year
By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)
Dr. James Birchler, the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri, has been named the 2017 SEC Professor of the Year, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Wednesday.
Dr. Birchler teaches classes in general genetics and advanced plant genetics and is well-known for his entertaining, informative and knowledgeable teaching methods. During his career, he has mentored 41 undergraduate research students, three master’s students, 20 Ph.D. students and 35 postdoctoral fellows.
“Faculty members guide students through meaningful learning experiences at each of our 14 member universities,” said Sankey. “As the 2017 SEC Professor of the Year, Dr. Birchler stands as an example of the quality and caliber of educator encountered by students throughout their college experience. We are pleased to bestow upon him the highest SEC faculty honor.”
Dr. Birchler’s research of Drosophila, commonly known as fruit flies, focuses on gene silencing and dosage compensation. Using maize as a model organism to study the structure and behavior of chromosomes, his laboratory is interested in the consequences of dosage sensitive gene regulatory mechanisms in multicellular eukaryotes and their implications for the phenotype and evolutionary processes.
In 2014, he was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors for his development of the first engineered synthetic plant chromosome, as well as a method for visualizing chromosomes in plants. Both discoveries have broad scientific and industrial application and sustained impact. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2011.
“Dr. Birchler exemplifies our core values of respect, discovery, responsibility and excellence,” said Dr. Hank Foley, Interim Chancellor at the University of Missouri. “He has made extraordinary contributions to genetics and crop management while simultaneously managing to be an outstanding undergraduate teacher and graduate mentor. We are thrilled to have him represent Mizzou and the Southeastern Conference.”
The SEC Professor of the Year Award is given annually to one SEC faculty member whose record of teaching, research and scholarship places him or her among the elite in higher education. Winners are selected by the SEC Provosts from among the 14 SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipients. In recognition of the honor, the SEC will provide Dr. Birchler with a $20,000 honorarium and he will be recognized at the SEC Awards Dinner in June.
The SEC Faculty Achievement and SEC Professor of the Year Awards are administered by SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. Through SECU, the SEC sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities.
Below is a list of past SEC Professor of the Year Award winners. Click here to read Dr. Birchler’s bio.
2016, Dr. Isiah Warner, LSU Boyd Professor, Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, LSU
2015, Dr. Isabel Gauthier, Professor of Radiology and Radiological Science, Vanderbilt University
2014, Dr. John Hall, Arthur C. Guyton Professor, Physiology and Biophysics, University of Mississippi
2013, Dr. Hap McSween, Distinguished Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee
2012, Dr. Loch K. Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia