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John Kiss awarded Distinguished Professor title

06/24/2011

John Kiss
John Kiss, professor of botany, was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor by Miami University's board of trustees Friday, June 24, effective July 1, 2011.

Established by Miami’s trustees in 1981 to attract and retain the most eminent professors, the title of Distinguished Professor carries with it a $6,000 annual stipend for professional expenses. A faculty committee screens nominations and conducts rigorous appraisals, including evaluations by nationally known scholars.

Kiss, professor of botany and a faculty member at Miami University since 1993, earned tenure in 1997 and was promoted to full professor in 1999. In 2008, he was named chair of the department of botany. He is internationally known for his research in botany and space biology.

One of his nominators explained that Kiss’ “work … contributes to America’s STEM initiatives by stimulating student interest in science and technology, recruiting them into undergraduate and graduate programs, providing stimulating didactic learning and ‘hands on’ experience in research on Earth and, in some instances, opportunities to utilize the International Space Station environment for plant biology experiments.”

Most noted among his research is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-funded project, Tropi-2, designed to better understand how plants integrate sensory gravity input from multiple light and gravity perception systems. The goal of the project is to determine plants’ potential use as a food source during prolonged human time in space. The project highlight was two, six-day experiments on the space shuttle Endeavor to the International Space Station in February 2010. For his work, he earned the 2010 NASA Honor Award. He also earned a 2007 NASA Ames Honor Award.

Kiss’ research also includes 89 published peer reviewed articles, 122 book reviews and almost 200 invited talks at professional meetings and other academic institutions. In addition, he has earned funding support of $5 million from more than a dozen major agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Health (HIH) and NASA.

In many of his projects, Kiss includes his students in the research. He has taught more than 10 different courses to graduate and undergraduate students, advised some 36 undergraduate students’ independent research projects, 11 master’s students, seven doctoral students, and five postdoctoral scholars. His dedication to his students and to his research was honored by several awards: Miami’s Alumni Enrichment Award (1997); University Distinguished Scholar (2006); Distinguished Scholar of the Graduate Faculty (2005); and 2001 Researcher of the Year by Miami University’s Sigma Xi, an international scientific and research honor society.

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