The Donald J. Armstrong Fund

The Fund

The Donald J. Armstrong Fund will support students and ongoing programs in the Department.

Dr. Donald J. Armstrong

After 29 years of dedicated instruction, service, and research, Dr. Donald Armstrong retired from the Department of Botany Plant Pathology in December of 2002.  He continued working on a half-time basis until June of 2003 as Associate Chairperson and teaching Plant Physiology, a course that has been dear to him since his arrival on campus.  Don earned his undergraduate degree and a Masters Degree in Secondary Education and Biological Science from Marshall University in Huntington, WV.  He earned his Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  After postdoctoral study in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, and at the Univ. of Wisconsin, Don joined our Department as an Assistant Professor in 1974.  He moved through the ranks becoming Professor of Plant Physiology in 1987.  In 1997 he was appointed Associate Chair in the Department with numerous additional responsibilities, including coordinating undergraduate and graduate teaching,  proposals for Botany Undergraduate Options, and the Preprofessional Teaching Option for Botany undergraduates.  Most recently, Don has also been a major player in a collaborative research project involving departmental and USDA scientists.

Don was instrumental in offering a twice-yearly course entitled Plant Physiology, which has been a mainstay in our department for years, and a service course for undergraduates from numerous other departments.

Don’s research focused on the identification and characterization of the regulatory mechanisms and molecular sites controlling metabolism and function of the plant hormone cytokinin, an essential ingredient in plant cell division.  His research provided crucial information about the physical, catalytic, and regulatory properties of cytokinin.

Don has provided so much of his time to departmental activities that it is difficult to adequately capture his contributions.  Whenever stymied by a question involving student advising, one only needed to call him.  During his first twelve years in the department he was major professor for four Masters and two Doctoral students.  He annually served as an undergraduate advisor for 10-15 Biology majors but was also knowledgeable about requirements for Botany students.  He served on virtually every standing departmental committee (many times as chair).  He also served on numerous committees, including those outside our department.  Don is known to the faculty as an outstanding writer and a premier editor.  Not surprising that he served 10 years as Associate Editor for the Journal of Plant Growth and Regulation and five years on the Editorial Board of Plant Physiology.  He was the person many of us turned to for a critical review of our writing. 

Given that Don is now totally immersed in solving the structure of GAF (seed Germination Arrest Factor) it is likely we will continue to see him in the halls of Cordley for some time.  Don is retired, but he will continue working just as he always has, at least for the foreseeable future.

by Dallice Mills