Ronald L. Phillips
Ph.D.: Minnesota (1966)
Year Appointed: 1967
Rank: Regents Professor Emeritus
Areas of Interest
Research and education; crop cytogenetics and genomics
Dr. Ronald L. Phillips is Regents Professor Emeritus and former McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota. He earned the B.S. and M.S. degrees from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota; postdoctoral training was at Cornell University. Throughout his career, Phillips has coupled the techniques of plant genetics and molecular biology to enhance our understanding of basic biology of cereal crops and to improve these species by innovative methods. His research program at the University of Minnesota was one of the early programs in modern plant biotechnology related to agriculture. He is a founding member and former Director of the Plant Molecular Genetics Institute, as well as, the Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, which merged in 2005 to form the Microbial and Plant Genomics Institute of the University of Minnesota. He has served on numerous editorial boards, edited six books, and published over 76 chapters, 150 refereed journal articles, and 360 abstracts. Phillips taught a course in plant genetics and has been invited to teach it or present the results of his research at numerous university, governmental, and industrial institutions in the U.S. and abroad. He served as Chief Scientist of the USDA (1996-1998) in Washington, D.C. in charge of the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program. Phillips chaired the Interagency Working Group that developed the plan for the Plant Genome Research Initiative. Awards include an honorary doctorate from Purdue University, Fellow of ASA, CSSA, and AAAS, the Purdue University Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Dekalb Genetics Crop Science Distinguished Career Award. In 1991, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is former Chair of the Section on Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. Phillips served as President of the Crop Science Society of America (2000), the Scientific Advisory Board of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Board of Trustees of the premier International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) of the Philippines, and as a Non-Resident Fellow of the Noble Foundation. Phillips was co-winner of the coveted 2007 Wolf Prize in Agriculture presented to him at an award ceremony May 13, 2007, in Jerusalem. In 2010, Phillips received the Medal for Science (Italy), the Siehl Prize for Excellence in Agriculture from the University of Minnesota, and the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) Presidential Award. He currently organizes the National Academy of Sciences Lecture Series at the University of Minnesota.
Research Interests: Phillips had responsibilities related to research and teaching in plant genetics applied to plant improvement with an attempt to bridge basic and applied aspects. The research objectives were to develop and apply genomics and molecular and classical genetic and cytogenetic information to the improvement of important traits, to evaluate somatic cell genetic systems for manipulating crop species, and to develop and use genetic and molecular biological selection procedures. Graduate and postdoctoral student interdisciplinary training in plant breeding and genetics was an important part of the program having advised 55 graduate students and 23 postdoctoral scientists. He taught a graduate course in cytogenetics. As Regents Professor Emeritus and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Phillips participates in addressing University-wide, national, and international issues.
Kynast, R.G., R.J. Okagaki, M.W. Galatowitsch, S.R. Granath, M.S. Jacobs, A.O. Stec, H.W. Rines, and R.L. Phillips. 2004. Dissecting the maize genome by using chromosome addition and radiation hybrid lines. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 9921-9926 (cover picture).
Vales, M.I., O. Riera-Lizarazu, H.W. Rines, and R.L. Phillips. 2004. Transmission of maize chromosome 9 rearrangements in oat-maize radiation hybrids. Genome 47: 1202-1210.
Odland, W., A. Baumgarten, and R. Phillips. 2006. Ancestral rice blocks define multiple related regions in the maize genome. The Plant Genome 1: S41-S48 (Supplement to Crop Sci. 46).
Baumgarten, A.M., J. Suresh, G. May, and R.L. Phillips. 2007. Mapping QTLs contributing to Ustilago maydis resistance in specific plant tissues of maize. Theor. Appl. Genet. 114:1229-1238.
Salvi, S., G. Sponza, M. Morgante, D. Tomes, X. Niu, K.A. Fengler, R. Meeley, E.V. Ananiev, S. Svitashev, E. Bruggemann, B. Li, C.F. Hainey, S. Radovic, G. Zaina, J.-A. Rafalski, S.V. Tingey, G.H. Miso, R.L. Phillips, and R. Tuberosa. 2007. Conserved noncoding genomic sequences associated with a flowering-time quantitative trait locus in maize. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:11376-11381.
Phillips, R.L., W.E. Odland, and A.L. Kahler. 2007. Rice as a reference genome and more. In: 5th Intl. Rice Genetics Symp., Eds. D.S. Brar, D. Mackill, and B. Hardy. pp 3-15.
Okagaki, R.J., M.S. Jacobs, A.O. Stec, R.G. Kynast, E. Buescher, H.W. Rines, M.I. Vales, O. Riera-Lizarazu, M. Schneerman, G. Doyle, K.L. Friedman, R.W. Staub, D.F. Weber, T.L. Kamps, I.F.E. Amarillo, C.D. Chase, and R.L. Phillips. 2008. Maize centromere mapping: A comparison of physical and genetic strategies. J. Hered. 92: 85-93.
Makarevitch, I., R.L. Phillips, and N.M. Springer. 2008. Profiling expression changes caused by a segmental aneuploid in maize. BMC Genomics 9:7.
Phillips, R.L. 2008. Can genome sequencing of model plants be helpful for crop improvement? Proc. 5th Intl. Crop Sci. Congr., Jeju Island, Korea. Web citation.
Kowles, R.V., M.D. Walch, J.M. Minnerath, C.J. Bernacchi, A.O. Stec, H.W. Rines, and R.L. Phillips. 2008. Expression of C4 photosynthetic enzymes in oat-maize chromosome addition lines. Maydica 53:69-78.
Phillips, R.L., and H.W. Rines. 2009. Expanding the boundaries of gene variation for crop improvement. In: Shu, Q.Y. (ed.) Induced plant mutations in the genomics era. FAO/IAEA. Rome, Italy.
Rines, H.W., R.L. Phillips, R.G. Kynast, R.J. Okagaki, M.W. Galatowitsch, P.A. Huettl, A.O. Stec, M.S. Jacobs, J. Suresh, H.L. Porter, M.D. Walch, and C.B. Cabral. 2009. Addition of individual chromosome of maize inbreds B73 and Mo 17 to oat cultivars Starter and Sun II: Maize chromosome retention, transmission, and plant phenotype. Theor. Appl. Genet. 199:1255-1264.
Phillips, R.L. 2009. Mobilizing science to break yield barriers. Crop Sci.:50:S99-108S.
Phillips, R.L., and H.W. Rines. 2009. Genetic analyses with oat maize addition and radiation hybrid lines. In: The Handbook of Maize: Genetics and Genomics (eds.), J.L. Bennetzen and S.C. Hake, Springer-Life Sciences, New York, NY, pp. 523-538.