A University of Florida researcher is among 84 new members of the National Academy of Sciences and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries, the academy announced Tuesday.
The election of Pam Soltis, a distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF, is in recognition of her distinguished achievement in original research. Soltis joins more than two dozen UF members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of engineering and the National Academy of Medicine.
“This is an incredible honor, and I’m very grateful to the academy,” Soltis said. “It’s really a reflection of great collaborators, students and post-docs, and of the wonderful environment here at UF.”
UF President Kent Fuchs said he was proud of Soltis and her recognition.
“Pam’s work in genetics and biology has been truly groundbreaking,” he said. “The respect she has earned on the international stage is a testament to her contributions and leadership, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her at the University of Florida.”
Soltis’s research interests are angiosperm phylogeny, phylogeography, polyploidy and conservation genetics. Among her most cited contributions are papers on plant evolution and on the role of genetic and genomic attributes in the success of polyploids.
Soltis’s research is motivated by her passion for biodiversity, especially plants. She uses genomic methods and computational modeling to understand patterns and processes of plant evolution and identify conservation priorities.
Much of her current work focuses on plant diversity and conservation in Florida, but her research has taken her throughout the U.S. and Canada and to Costa Rica, New Caledonia, Spain, China and Brazil, and she presents her research at both national and international conferences. She is the author of over 400 publications, including seven books. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Soltis is a dedicated teacher and mentor at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels. At UF, she is director of the newly formed Biodiversity Institute and a member of the Graduate Council and the Genetics Institute’s Executive Committee and other committees. She has served her profession as president of the Botanical Society of America, president of the Society of Systematic Biologists, a Council Member of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and the Society for the Study of Evolution, and an associate editor of numerous journals.
She has received several awards for her contributions to the study of plant diversity, most notably the International Prize in Botany, the Asa Gray Award, the Botanical Society of America’s Merit Award, and in 2016 the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London, all jointly with her husband, UF Distinguished Professor Douglas E. Soltis.
Soltis received a bachelor’s degree from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and her doctorate from the University of Kansas. She joined the UF faculty in 2000, after 14 years at Washington State University.
Those elected to the National Academy of Science today bring the total number of active members to 2,291 and the total number of foreign associates to 465. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the Academy, with citizenship outside the United States.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine -- provides science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.