College of Ag Sciences faculty member, Jason Kaye, named distinguished professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs has named Jason Kaye, professor of soil biogeochemistry in the College of Agricultural Sciences, as a distinguished professor.

Kaye is a nationally recognized scholar and researcher on the critical zone, which describes fluxes and reactions of life on the planet, from the top of the tree canopy to below the rooting zone. His research has contributed to understanding how soil microbial processes vary through the critical zone and affect ecosystem carbon balance and weathering rates.

Jason Kaye, professor of soil biogeochemistry in the College of Agricultural Sciences has been named a distinguished professor. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

The title of distinguished professor at Penn State recognizes the academic contributions of current, full-time faculty members who hold the rank of professor. Distinguished professors are acknowledged leaders in their fields of research or creative activity; demonstrate significant leadership in raising the university’s standards in teaching, research or creative activity, and service; and exhibit excellent teaching skills.

“Jason Kaye’s research, teaching and service have risen to the level that makes him very deserving of the rank of distinguished professor,” said David Eissenstat, former interim head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. “He represents the highest levels of excellence and achievement and is a valued faculty member.”

Covering both agroecosystems and forests, Kaye’s research focuses on carbon and nutrient fluxes in ecosystems. His scholarly contributions include 108 peer-reviewed publications and four book chapters. He has a long history of conducting research that improves understanding of the influence of cover crops on agroecosystem processes.

In the last five years, Kaye has received funding for 11 grant proposals totaling nearly $16 million; he was the principal investigator in four of those. In 2017, Kaye’s research accomplishments were recognized when he received the premier research award in the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Alex and Jesse Black Award for Excellence in Research.

Kaye has taught undergraduate and graduate classes in ecosystem ecology, environmental sustainability and biogeochemistry. He is the leader on two graduate training grants and is heavily involved with the teaching associated with that training. One training grant uses critical zone science to train forest managers. On the second, he designed and co-teaches several classes that take new interdisciplinary and experiential approaches to training graduate students.

“Dr. Kaye’s teaching excellence is reflected not only in his courses, which are very well received by his students, but also in his outstanding mentoring of graduate students and his success with obtaining external funding through training grants,” Eissenstat said. “In the last five years, he received funding for four graduate fellowships for his students.”

Recognition of his mentoring excellence and contributions to undergraduate and graduate education include the Bellis Award from the Penn State Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and the Community of Excellence Teaching Award from the Penn State chapter of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture.

Kaye has shown outstanding service to the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, the College of Agricultural Sciences and the University, according to Eissenstat, most notably as chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. He currently serves on two University-wide task forces related to graduate education.

Beginning his career at Penn State in 2005 as an assistant professor, Kaye was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and to professor in 2016. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, he was an assistant professor at Arizona State University from 2002 to 2004.

Kaye received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University and a doctoral degree in ecology from Colorado State University.

Last Updated February 17, 2021