Distinguished plant biologist Margaret McCully joined Carleton University in 1966 as a faculty member after obtaining her PhD at Harvard. She has been widely honoured for her work, which has touched on many areas of science – from phycology and microbiology to anatomy and physiology.
McCully is best known as an expert in root biology and her papers on this topic illustrate the broad base of her studies. She is as much at ease writing about techniques to study roots as about their anatomy and physiology. Her research investigates how plant roots exploit the soil environment in search of nutrients and water, factors of key importance in agriculture and horticulture.
She has published two books and 168 papers in internationally refereed journals and, in the process, she has changed long-held views in many fields.
“Carleton provided me with the environment, the support and the encouragement that allowed me to develop my research and teaching careers,” says McCully.
“My former students now hold senior academic and research positions in Canada, the United States, England, Australia, Germany and Finland. Others are excelling in a wide range of other fields, nationally and internationally.”
McCully has been invited as a visiting fellow to universities in England and Australia and received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in Root Research from the International Root Research Society. She received the Carleton University Scholarly Achievement Award in 1987 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada the same year.
Although she retired in 1999 and moved to Australia, McCully continues with research collaborations and mentors students at Australia National University, Charles Sturt University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the federal government agency for scientific research in Australia.