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Sharon Clay

Sharon Clay


Distinguished Professor Emerita of Agronomy

Office Building

Edgar S. McFadden Biostress Lab



Mailing Address

McFadden Biostress Laboratory 245C
Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science-Box 2140C
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


Dr. Clay received a B.S. in horticulture fro the University of Wisconsin Madison, an M.S. in plant science from University of Idaho, and a Ph.D. in agronomy from the University of Minnesota. She has conducted weed management studies in cropping systems including corn, soybean, wheat, barley, flax, sunflower, safflower and rangeland. Studies have included weed physiology, the influence of weeds on crop growth and genomic responses, and site-specific weed management strategies. She has published over 200 scientific articles and has served as editor on several books and associate editor for Weed Science and technical editor for Agronomy Journal. She has been co-author of four best papers of the year. She has served on numerous national committees and grant review panels. She was elected American Society of Agronomy fellow in 2009 and served as the president in 2013. In 2017 she was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta International Distinguished Achievement in Agriculture Award and in 2019 the ASA/CSSA/SSSA Mentoring Award.


sharon clay profile doc jan 2024.docx(44.33 KB)


● B.S. University of Wisconsin Horticulture 1977 graduated with Honors
● M.S. University of Idaho Plant Science 1983
● Ph.D. University of Minnesota Agronomy 1986

Academic Responsibilities

Undergraduate classes
• Weed Science (PS 343) (3 cr) a required undergraduate class for Plant Science Degree (Since 1989). Developed the Laboratory and Lecture Note Manuals for the course.
Graduate classes
• Advanced Weed Science (2 cr) 700 level course.

Committee Activities

• Panel Manager Soils – 2011. AFRI Foundational Awards
• USDA-CSREES NCR 177. Non herbicide alternatives for weed management. Member 1992 1996. Chairman, 1993-1994.
• Chairman of departmental space and resource allocation committee, 1993-1994
• Symposium organizer and chair: Alternative weed management. Seattle ASA meetings, 1994
• Soil-Herbicide Interactions section of Weed Science Soc., 1995, 2010
• Edaphic Factors section of North Central Weed Science Society, 1996
• Agronomy Society of America.
o Norvartis Young Research Award Agronomy Society of America, 2000. Committee member 1999
o Chair ASA Women in Agriculture, 2007
o Chair Div. A-8. 2009
Panel member for reviewing grant proposals:
• NAPIAP 1994, 1995
• USDA-NRI Small Business Administration 1994, 1995
• Southern IPM proposals, 1998, 2000, 2002
• USDA-NRI Soils and Soil Biology 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003
• USDA/EPA Program 406 National Water Quality proposals 2000, 2001, 2002
• Invasive Species 2006
• NIFA Weedy and Invasive Plants – 2010, 2013, 2015 Pest management 2017, 2018, 2021
• Panel Manager Soils – 2011. AFRI Foundational Awards

USDA-ARS program review team
• Panel member for 2006 and 2014 OSQR ARS Soil Science Review

Awards and Honors

• USDA-Edminster Award, 1987; Gamma Sigma Delta Research Award, 1996; Dean’s Award for Teaching/Research Excellence, 1997; F.O. Butler Award Excellence in Research 1997; Sigma Xi Research Award, 1999; Gamma Sigma Delta Teaching Award 2002; SD AES Griffith Faculty Research Award, 2005; IR-4 Meritorious Service Award, 2005; Weed Science paper nominated for best paper of the year 2005; Agronomy Journal paper selected by journal staff for Science in Action review, 2005; Weed Science Best Paper of the Year, 2007; ASA Fellow, 2009; Chair for Agricultural Systems (A-8) in the American Society of Agronomy; Corn Best Management Practices, selected for excellence by ASA 2010; Woman of Distinction – SDSU 2010; Dean’s Team Award for Excellence in Extension (2004); Teaching (2005); Research (2005); Weed Science Best Paper of the Year 2012; American Society of Agronomy President 2013; Weed Science Paper of the Year 2013; SDSU Distinguished Professor, 2016. College Researcher of the year 2021; ASA/CSSA/SSSA mentoring award 2019
• Gamma Sigma Delta – Executive Committee 2009-2013 (President 2012); Executive committee 1997- 2001 (President, 2000); International Gamma Sigma Delta Agriculture Service Award, 2017
• Sigma Xi Executive Committee (President) President’s Service award, 2001.

International Recognition:
● Invited speaker CCA program Toluca, Mexico (September 2014)
● Invited speaker South African Precision Ag Congress (April 2013)
● Invited keynote speaker and panel leader for Global Agronomy session, International Agronomy Conference, New Delhi, India (Nov. 2012)
• Worked with Dr. F. Pati, Boliva (2.5 yr 2009-2011)
• Worked with Dr. Aguilar, Mexico (worked in my lab for 3 summers, co-wrote journal articles)
• Drs. Rola and Sadowski, Poland (co-wrote international grant proposals)
• Invited speaker to NATO Conference (see invited presentation) 1997.
• Invited keynote speaker, Mexican Weed Science Society, 1996.
• Initiated an undergraduate student fund for Mexican Weed Science Society.
• Invited speaker at Mexican Herbicide Resistance Workshop, 1999.


● I have been an author or co-author on grants in several areas to different agencies. Since 1989, I have received $10 M in external grant funds directly to SDSU for weed science and related projects and have been involved with multi-institutional projects that have totaled close to $50 M.

Professional Memberships

• American Society of Agronomy, Incoming President elect (first woman ASA president), presidential term, 2013. Major accomplishments: Committee appointments and chair positions, started Greenfield Scholars an undergraduate mentoring program paired with CCAs for professional development; fellow review; nominating committee for presidents; ACCESS chair (2014) review of CEO performance; science policy oversight; 2022 Fellow selection committee Editorial board 2017-2023
• South Dakota Academy of Science, Vice president, 1996-1997, President, 1997-1998, Executive Board, 1995-2000
• Sigma Xi – South Dakota State University Chapter (Member since 1991), Chairman of graduate student paper contest committee, 1992-1993, Vice president, 1995, President, 1996
• Gamma Sigma Delta - South Dakota State University Chapter, Treasurer, 1994; Secretary, 1995; Vice President, 1996; President, 1997
• Weed Science Society of America, member since 1983
o Committees include Herbicide Handbook, Necrology, Resolution, Environmental Quality (2000-2003)
o Associate editor Weed Science 2000- present
o Previous committees (2006 – 2010)– Herbicides for Minor use; Education committee
o Current committees (2012-2015) Editorial board; Weed Science Journal Board; Finance Board; Environmental Aspects; Research committee
o Chair of Environmental Aspects section, symposium organizer for soil/herbicide interactions

Work Experience

● Professor, Plant Science Dept., SDSU, 7/98 – present (20% teaching/80% research)
● Assoc. Professor, Plant Science Dept., SDSU, 7/93-6/98
● Assistant Professor, Plant Science Dept., SDSU, 8/89-6/93
● Research Agronomist – (Post doctoral position) USDA-ARS, Soil & Water Management Research Unit, St Paul, MN. 7/86-8/89

Area(s) of Research

• Weed biology and physiology
• Crop/weed interactions including corn, wheat, barley, oil seed crops (sunflowers, flax, soybean), rangeland and pastures.
• Precision agriculture to assess weed variability across landscape positions.
• Herbicide-soil- antibiotic interactions to limit or eliminate herbicide contamination of surface and ground water.
• Transcriptome and stable isotope (13C and 15N) analysis explore weed-crop interactions on corn and soybean, crop effects on weeds and abiotic stress effects on corn.
• Nonchemical options for weed control including tillage, crop rotations, cover crops, grit sprayer applications and biocontrol options.
• IR-4 research to examine herbicide/pesticide residue in minor use crops




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