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USD Hosts Kansas State University Biologist for Lecture on Great Plains Grass Species

VERMILLION, S.D. – Loretta Johnson, professor of biology at Kansas State University, delivered a lecture on Great Plains grassland species at the University of South Dakota on Monday, March 27.

Titled “Adaptive Variation in Response to Climate in a Foundation Grass Species of the Great Plains,” the lecture focused on studying the variation that occurs due to genetic and environmental influences in grassland species.

Johnson aims to “take the genome revolution and bring it to the biological world.” Her research specifically addresses how climate change might influence grassland species like the big bluestem, the subject of her research.

“Why do we care about climate? We’ve had terrible droughts that have lasted for a couple of years,” said Johnson. “With future drier springs and summers predicted, this is why it's important for us to understand how an ecological dominant species like Bluestem will respond.”

The lecture was sponsored by the USD Department of Biology as part of an ongoing series of guest speakers.


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.