Thomas G. Whitham, a Regents’ professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, was honored with the first-ever Frances B. McAllister Award for Conservation and Education by The Arboretum of Flagstaff. The award ceremony took place in conjunction with The Arboretum’s thirty-fifth anniversary celebration on Sunday, July 24.

NAU President Rita Cheng was on hand to help present the award.

“Both personally and professionally, Tom exemplifies NAU’s commitment to excellence and community service,” Cheng said. “The award is a well-deserved recognition of Tom’s efforts to conserve native plants and plant communities, develop innovative genetic solutions to conservation issues, and train the next generation of scientists.”

Whitham is a pioneer in the science of community and ecosystem genetics, and has worked closely with The Arboretum to establish the Southwest Experimental Garden Array. SEGA is a new genetics-based research platform comprised of a series of experimental gardens along the elevation gradient in northern Arizona. The gardens are used to test how species respond to changing environmental conditions. The Arboretum is home to one of the SEGA gardens, which is used not only for research, but also as part of middle school science curricula.

Whitham, who is also the executive director of the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, has authored or co-authored more than 250 papers in scientific journals, including Science and Nature. Tom has received multiple awards for his research and teaching contributions, including the prestigious Eminent Ecologist Award by the Ecological Society of America—the group’s highest honor—for his outstanding body of work and commitment to teaching.