UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jonathan Lynch, professor of plant nutrition, was one of 15 Penn State faculty members to be named distinguished professors by the university in January.

Lynch’s laboratory studies the genetic, physiological and ecological basis of plant adaptation to drought and low soil fertility.

This includes examining root traits that can be used to breed crops to better acquire the critical resources necessary for healthy growth.

“His discoveries have both scientific and practical applications to help improve the yield and quality of important crops,” said Richard Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “For this, he is very deserving of this distinction.”

Lynch’s lab recently received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops.

In addition to his responsibilities at Penn State, Lynch serves as a chairman on the Plant Efficiency Advisory Council at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, as a chairman in root biology at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and as director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate Resilient Beans.