Dr. Jonathan Wendel is a recipient of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Researcher of the Year Award for 2021.
Wendel’s research focuses on mechanisms underlying plant genomic and phenotypic diversify, with a special focus on the phenomenon of whole genome doubling, or polyploidy. Most of his ~300 publications focus on the cotton genus (Gossypium), in which two diploid and two polyploid species were each independently domesticated thousands of years ago. This natural evolutionary diversification, followed by parallel strong directional selection under domestication, provide a model framework for exploring the comparative basis of domestication, the origin of form and of diversity in nature, and the evolutionary consequences of genome doubling.
His research has helped shape our understanding of the myriad genomic consequences of allopolyploidy, where two diverged diploid genomes become reunited in a common nucleus. His laboratory has illuminated the evolutionary processes of intergenomic gene conversion, homoeolog expression bias, duplicate gene coregulation and expression dominance, biased fractionation, and the evolutionary trajectories of duplicated networks. He has helped to shape the field, as documented in citation metrics (Google Scholar >42,200 citations; H-index of 101).
Moreover, his contributions have been recognized in all three major domains of professorial life - Master Teacher, 2005, for his role as graduate mentor and educator, Distinguished Professor, 2012, for national research prominence, and Outstanding Achievement in Departmental Leadership, 2009, for leadership excellence during his 15 years (2002-2017) as department chair, His work has garnered national recognition, as evidenced by his election as a AAAS Fellow (2010), Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society of America, 2015, and Distinguished Scholar, Crop Science Society of America, (2015), among other awards.