James A. MacMahon, head of the department of biology at Utah State University, will receive the 1988 D. Wynne Thorne Award at USU's Centennial Commencement June 4.

The Thorne award, created in 1980, recognizes excellence in research.

It is named for USU's first vice president for research.

MacMahon, an ecologist, is known for studies that range from the biochemical to community levels, said biology professor John Simmons in his nomination. MacMahon poses experimental questions designed to discover fundamental principles and applies them to the solution of problems that are generated by human impact on the environment.

He has published more than 50 scientific papers, chapters and books, communicates widely to diverse audiences, and has served as a mentor to many students.

He has been a faculty member at USU since 1974, and became department head in 1985.

He is on advisory panels for NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Science Foundation, and has served on the editorial board of the Great Basin Naturalist.