Published: Jan. 10, 2013

Faculty conversations: Jonathan Walton

By: Courtney Culey Media Communications courtney.culey@cabs.msu.eduContact(s): Jennifer Orlando Media Communications office: (517) 353-4355 cell: (517) 980-0076 Jennifer.Orlando@cabs.msu.edu

Jonathan Walton joined the Michigan State University faculty more than 25 years ago.

He’s been busy ever since.

In addition to teaching Plant Biology 415, which covers topics ranging from plant hormones to photosynthesis, he’s a guest lecturer in other courses around campus. He also is the director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center,

But Walton’s work doesn’t stop there. He spends countless hours in the lab, with the help of post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, researching a variety of issues relating to plants.

The hard work paid off when Walton was named a 2013 AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This national recognition is awarded to researchers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.

“It’s a great honor to be elected as a AAAS Fellow and I join a number of colleagues on campus who enjoy the same honor,” he said.

Walton was recognized for his work on toxin synthesis by fungi and their role in causing diseases in plants.

He credits his former graduate students and post-doctoral research associates for their efforts and help with the research that garnered him the AAAS honor.

“I’m very grateful for them,” he said.

Walton’s current research focuses on biotechnology applications of fungi, with a particular focus on poisonous mushrooms. Because compounds that are poisonous to some organisms can be beneficial to other organisms, his goal is to understand how the poisonous toxins are made in hopes of developing better drugs to treat cancer, MRSA and tuberculosis. The research is funded by the National Institute of Health.

“I’m very grateful for all of the support that Michigan State University has given to me – and to my colleagues – to make this a great place to work,” Walton said.

Click to enlarge

Jonathan Walton, director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

Jonathan Walton, director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth

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