Distinguished James McGill Professor - Director and CEO, BioFuelNet Canada
During his 33 years at McGill, 80 graduate students have worked under Donald Smith’s direct supervision, ~2/3 at the Ph.D. level. He has published more than 320 peer-reviewed papers, has an H index of 55, >10,000 citations, and 13 issued patents. These have worked largely in production and physiology of crop plants, more recently with an emphasis on plant-microbe interactions.
He is involved in the physiological responses of crop plants to increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and to climate change, plant-microbe signaling and biochar effects on crop productivity. Throughout his research career, work on nitrogen fixation has been a consistent theme, beginning with an undergraduate research project on cyanobacteria in 1974. Current work in this area includes signaling between symbiotic partners during establishment of the legume-rhizobia symbiosis. Altogether this research activity resulted a spin-off company (Bios Agriculture Inc.) and products applied to several tens of millions of ha of cropland in each year.
He led an NCE ($10 million per year) BioFuelNet Canada Network on development of advanced biofuels, including conversion of waste biomass into fuels, and also heads the McGill Network for Innovation in Biofuels and Bioproducts and the Eastern Canadian Oilseed Development Initiative network (AAFC funded at $2 million per year). He has had international collaborations with the US, India, China, Russia, Brazil and Africa and has collaborated extensively with industry as part of his research.