Day named MSU Foundation Professor

Designation awarded to faculty with excellence in research

Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences and MSU Foundation Professor Brad Day.
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Brad Day was recently recognized as an MSU Foundation Professor.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University (MSU) recently named nine new MSU Foundation Professors, a designation given to outstanding faculty who demonstrate excellence in research. Among those distinguished is Brad Day, Ph.D., a professor in the MSU Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.

“To be recognized by this designation, at a place like MSU, is an immeasurable honor. For the past 14 years, I have had an opportunity to be surrounded by the most amazing people – from the students in my lab that have shaped my research, to the faculty that have continuously invested their time to challenge me and the way I think. For this, I am grateful this recognition,” Day said.

“It is an especially high honor to receive the support and investment from the MSU Foundation, the Vice President for Research & Innovation, CANR, PSM, and particularly MSU AgBioResearch – who instilled in me the philosophy of ‘fundamental research with intended outcomes.’ This latter challenge is one that underpins my research philosophy, and with this Foundation Professorship, raises the bar and my drive to excel.”

His research focuses on the molecular-genetic and biochemical processes associated with the interaction between plants and how they protect themselves against pathogens.

Day formerly served as the associate chair for Research in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. A founding member of the MSU Plant Resilience Institute, Day recently received a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend his study on how plants, at the cellular level, respond to disease threats.

The MSU Foundation Professorship was established in 2014 through the generosity of the Michigan State University Foundation. In addition to the permanent title, honorees are typically provided with five years of supplemental scholarly funding.

“While areas of investigation and career stages vary, the awardees are united in one aspect: their work is having profound impacts on the world’s most challenging problems,” said Doug Gage, Interim Vice President for Research & Innovation about the MSU Foundation Professorship honor.

These scholars join 40 of their peers who have previously been named MSU Foundation Professors.

“These honorees are internationally recognized researchers,” said David Washburn, executive director of the Michigan State University Foundation. “Their scholarship and contributions to their fields represent a level of engagement and accomplishment that the foundation is proud to support.”

Day received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in Microbiology in 1999 where his research focused on biochemical characterization of rhizobial bacteria and its signal perception in soybean. Prior to his role at MSU, Day served as an NIH-funded postdoc at the University of California-Berkeley.

In 2006, he accepted a position at MSU as an assistant professor. Since then, his lab has worked to define the role of the actin cytoskeleton as a signaling platform for immune signaling in plants. His group was the first to identify a link between the function of the actin cytoskeleton and gene-for-gene resistance. In 2017, he was promoted to professor at MSU.

His research is supported by The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (OVPRGS), the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NIGMS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (NIFA).

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