Don Ort is the Research Leader of the USDA/ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit in Urbana, IL and the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.
His B.S. degree is in biology/chemistry from Wake Forest University and he earned his Ph.D. in plant biochemistry from Michigan State University.
He served as President of International Society of Photosynthesis Research, President of the International Association of Plant Physiology, President of the American Society of Plant Biologists and as Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology and Associate Editor of Annual Review of Plant Biology.
He is the 2006 ASPB Kettering Award recipient, elected Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologist in 2007 and Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science Award in 2009.
He is the Director of the SoyFACE project; a unique open-air laboratory investigating the impacts of rising carbon dioxide and tropospheric ozone and their interactions with temperature and precipitation on crop systems of the Midwest (www.soyface.uiuc.edu), involving research groups from a range of University of Illinois departments and institutions across the US, Europe and Asia.
He is also Theme Leader of Genomic Ecology of Global Change in the Institute of Genomic Biology at Illinois and Associate Director of RIPE — Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency for improved crop production, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation Project.
His laboratory is engaged in three lines of research: i) Redesigning photosynthesis for improved efficiency; ii) Molecular and biochemical basis of environmental interactions with crop plants; iii) Ecological genomics: Interactive effects of CO2, temperature and drought on plant, plant canopy and plant ecosystem performance.