Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Kelly Dawe

UGA Athletic Association Professor
Plant Biology; Genetics
Life Sciences, Rm B412
Life Sciences, Rm B414A
Office Phone:

I received my Ph.D. in Michael Freeling’s lab at U.C. Berkeley and post-doctoral training with Zacheus Cande at Berkeley and John Sedat at U.C. San Francisco. My training is in maize genetics and cell biology. As a professor in two departments (Plant Biology and Genetics), I have focused on understanding plant chromosome segregation, meiotic drive, centromere structure and function, and maize genomics. I have maintained an active and funded lab since 1995, and nearly all of those trained here have gone on to productive careers in science.

Research Interests:

The Dawe lab studies genome structure and cell division in maize, focusing on the biology of centromeres.  Students and postdocs work at all levels of genetics, including traditional genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, epigenetics and bioinformatics. We also work intensively with microscopes to visualize cell division using fixed and live-cell imaging methods. Current projects involve developing synthetic centromeres, on manipulating centromeres as a means create haploids, and on the special properties of maize abnormal chromosome 10 in converting heterochromatic knobs to “neocentromeres” that actively move on the spindle and skew Mendelian inheritance. Prospective students interested in research that involves a combination of field work, lab work, sequence analysis, and cell biology are encouraged to apply.

High-resolution microscopy, anti-kinetochore antisera, and maize cytology/genetics will continue to be major assets in our work.

  • NSF Dawe (PI)  01/15/2018-01/14/2020  Dawe, and leading two Co-PIs, TRANSFORM-PGR: Whole genome assembly of the maize NAM founders
  • NSF “Functional Genomics of Maize Centromeres” Dawe (PI) 08/15/2015-08/14/2020
  • NSF “Mechanism of neocentromere motility and meiotic drive in maize” Dawe (PI) 09/01/2014-08/31/2017
Selected Publications:

Ph.D. Genetics, U.C Berkeley 1989

M.S. Botany, Univ. of California, Riverside 1985

B.S. Landscape Horticulture, Colorado State University 1983

Of note:

2000 Creative Research Medal, University of Georgia                                          

2007 Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS)

2019-2020    Rotating Program Director, National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program

Articles Featuring Kelly Dawe

Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Dawe, UGA Athletic Association Professor in Plant Biology for his groundbreaking paper just published in the Aug 6 issue of Science!

Congratulations to Dr. Kelly Dawe, who was one of four faculty members named as UGA Athletic Association Professors this year! The Professorship is awarded in recognition of Kelly's research excellence and leadership. 

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Give Now

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.