L. Alan Prather, Ph.D.

Distinguished Alumni

Alan Prather is a native Oklahoman from Claremore and attended the University of Tulsa, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1987, before coming to OSU for a master’s in botany.

Prather earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995, followed by a two-year postdoctoral position at the University of California, Irvine. He has been on faculty in the Department of Plant Biology at Michigan State University since 1997, where he served as director of the MSU Herbarium and director of graduate studies for the Department of Plant Biology.

His research focuses on plant diversity, where he uses morphology, ecology, genetics and cytology to document the diversity of form and function in plants and has described several new species from North, South and Central America. Currently, his research focuses on how polyploidy, having extra sets of chromosomes, drives diversity in morphology, ecology and population genetics of native species of phlox in the southwestern U.S. His scholarly work has also focused on using herbarium and other natural history collections in research and teaching. Prather has published work on effectively using museum collections in active and collaborative learning.

Prather currently lives in East Lansing, Michigan, with his husband, Bryan Lijewski.