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Blevins Receives Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Kentucky


Columbia, MO - In recognition of significant career achievements as an alumnus of the Plant and Soil Sciences Department, the University of Kentucky has elected Dale Blevins, Professor Emeritus of plant physiology in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, as the recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award for 2011.

Blevins was nominated for the UK award by two of his own former students and current UK faculty members: Dr. Larry Grabau, Associate Dean of Instruction, and Dr. David Hildebrand, Professor of Agronomy. Blevins received his doctorate in plant physiology from UK in 1972. His dissertation was titled "The influence of nitrate metabolism on iron uptake and ionic balance in barley seedlings."

Blevins credits his undergraduate mentor at Southwest Missouri State University, for encouraging him to pursue his doctorate work at UK: "He mentioned that the University of Kentucky was hiring a bunch of new plant physiologists. I went over there and they had about eight young faculty members, an entirely new facility - all kinds of new stuff. It was fantastic."

Following his doctorate at UK, Blevins completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at Oregon State University in the Botany Department with Harold Evans. In 1974, he joined the faculty of the Botany Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, as an assistant professor. He moved to the University of Missouri, where he joined the faculty of the Agronomy Department as an associate professor in 1978. He was promoted to professor in 1985 and served as chair of the Agronomy Department from 1999-2000.

Blevins' research interests lay in the topic of plant mineral nutrition. The initial focus of his research at MU was on nitrogen metabolism in the root nodules and leaves of soybeans. His major contributions in this area included the biochemistry of ureide synthesis in legume nodules, ureide catabolism in soybean leaves, effects of boron on branching and yield in soybean, and growth hormone production in legume nodules. His contributions in the field of ureide metabolism are the subject of many review articles and book chapters. In the mid-1990s, Blevins also discovered that magnesium and phosphorus play a role in the cattle disease grass tetany and switched his research program from soybean physiology to forage physiology. His research contributions in this area include effects of phosphate levels on magnesium availability in forage grasses and micronutrient concentrations in stockpiled tall fescue treated with phosphorus. Most recently, Blevins and one of his PhD students determined that NAD-malic enzyme sub-type C4 plants, like switchgrass, more manganese for optimum growth and development than other types of C4 plants or C3 plants. His research contributions were often directly applicable to agriculture in Missouri and elsewhere.

Blevins has authored/co-authored 90 refereed publications (with many more in the still in the works), 16 invited book chapters, and 17 poplar press articles. He received in excess of $3.9 million in competitive research funding as PI or co-PI. He served his profession in many capacities, including as associate editor of Crop Science and as chair of the Crop Physiology Section for the American Society of Agronomy, Chair of the Plant Physiology Society Teaching Committee and as an editorial board member of Plant Physiology, Crop Science and Plant & Soil.

Blevins is widely regarded as an exceptional teacher. In 1993, he received MU's most distinguished teaching award, the W. T. Kemper Teaching Excellence Award. He is also recipient of the MU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award (1992), the CAFNR Outstanding Graduate Advisor Award (2006) and the Crop Science Society of America Teaching Award for 2010. He mentored 10 M.Sc. and 11 Ph.D. students, and 7 postdoctoral associates.

Blevins is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (1992) and the Crop Science of America (1992). On March 25, 2012, he will present at the Distinguished Alumni seminar in Cameron Williams Auditorium at the University of Kentucky.