Alumni Honorees

Kevin FoltaKevin M. Folta

B.S. Biological Sciences, 1989
M.S. Biological Sciences, 1992


Dr. Kevin M. Folta has been recognized as an award-winning scientist studying the genomics of horticultural crops and the molecular biology of signal transduction in plants. He has authored over 50 scholarly reviews, research articles and book chapters, and served as editor on two seminal texts in fruit genomics. Folta has mentored over 50 high school, undergraduate and graduate students in his laboratory, along with a number of postdocs and international scholars. He has been recognized as Distinguished Mentor of Undergraduate Research by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and last year received the National Science Foundation’s prestigious CAREER Award.

While at NIU, Folta was a three-time national forensics finalist, using public speaking as a forum to share scientific discovery and argue health and environmental issues.  In 1992 he earned the Sidney Mittler Award for Excellence in Genetics from NIU’s Biological Sciences Department.  He completed his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and performed postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin.  In 2002 Folta accepted a position at the University of Florida. He has been an Associate Professor there since 2008.

Kevin’s experience at NIU in public speaking and writing were invaluable aspects of his scholarly training. The skills learned in these areas have translated into successful pursuit of research funds from federal organizations and private industry.  He has an intense interest in promoting science with children and in public education, using unique tools of plant physiology to teach and inspire.