Soltis named 2021-2022 Teacher/Scholar of the Year
Pamela S. Soltis, a distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, has been selected as the 2021-2022 University of Florida Teacher/Scholar of the Year.
UF’s most prestigious and oldest faculty award, the recognition offers an honorarium of $6,000 in addition to other acknowledgements. In selecting the winner, the Award Committee chooses a faculty member who demonstrates distinguished achievement in both teaching and scholarly activity as evidenced through scholarly research, creative writing, original works of art, etc., and visibility within and beyond the university.
Soltis, director of the UF Biodiversity Institute, is a botanist whose principal research focuses on plant diversity and evolution. She is widely known for her recognition of the importance of polyploidy — having more than two sets of chromosomes — evolution in flowering and seed plants. She joined UF in 2000.
She has more than 400 scientific publications, authored and edited nine books, and served as president for three scientific societies.
Soltis was a nominee for the National Medal of Science and won the Southeastern Universities Research Association’s 2018 Distinguished Scientist Award. Alongside her husband, Doug Soltis, who is also a distinguished professor at the university, Pam Soltis co-won the 2002 Dahlgren Prize in Botany from the Royal Physiographic Society of Sweden, the 2006 Asa Gray Award from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the 2010 Award of Merit from the Botanical Society of America, and the 2016 Darwin-Wallace Medal by the Linnean Society of London.
Soltis and her team are currently working on digitizing national history collections for research and using artificial intelligence to address questions in plant biology. They are also refining the plant branch of the tree of life, a project by biologists to document every known species and how they are related.
With this award, Soltis will become a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teacher Scholars, which includes a $3,000 allocation for her teaching endeavors. She will also serve as UF’s nominee for the Southeastern Conference Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.
“I feel so honored,” Soltis said. “I don’t view this as an individual award but as a team-based award. My main team member is my husband but also the postdocs, students, researchers and everyone at the museum.”