Distinguished Research Professor 2012
Michael Arnold, professor of genetics, is one of the world’s best known experts on evolutionary genetics, particularly the study of natural hybridization. He has championed the view of hybridization as a critical evolutionary process in both plants and animals, and he has provided a wealth of empirical data demonstrating that hybridization can be widespread. Through breeding experiments and careful genetic analysis, Arnold has demonstrated that hybridization often leads to significant gene exchange between closely related species. This has far-reaching consequences, as Arnold’s work demonstrates that hybridization is a critical evolutionary process that addresses important questions related to speciation, the origins of new species of plants and animals. He is particularly well known for his study of Louisiana Irises, which has become a classic example of the role of hybridization in adaptive evolution and speciation. Arnold is author of three highly influential books and more than 120 academic articles.