Botanist Honored: Pam Soltis elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Steve Orlando

Pam Soltis, a distinguished professor and curator at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May in recognition of her distinguished achievement in original research.

“This is an incredible honor, and I’m very grateful to the academy,” Soltis said. “It’s really a reflection of great collaborators, students and post-docs, and of the wonderful environment here at UF.”

Soltis’ research interests are angiosperm phylogeny, phylogeography, polyploidy and conservation genetics. Among her most cited contributions are papers on plant evolution and on the role of genetic and genomic attributes in the success of polyploids.

“Pam’s work in genetics and biology has been truly groundbreaking,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “The respect she has earned on the international stage is a testament to her contributions and leadership, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her at the University of Florida.”

Soltis’ research is motivated by her passion for biodiversity, especially plants. She uses genomic methods and computational modeling to understand patterns and processes of plant evolution and to identify conservation priorities.

Much of her current work focuses on plant diversity and conservation in Florida, but her research has taken her throughout the U.S. and Canada and to Costa Rica, New Caledonia, Spain, China and Brazil, and she presents her research at both national and international conferences. She is the author of over 400 publications, including seven books. Her work is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Medicine — provides science, technology and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations. Soltis joins more than two dozen UF members in the three academies.