LISLE, Ill. – December 7, 2023 — The Morton Arboretum Tree Root Biologist Luke McCormack, Ph.D., has been recognized as one of the most cited and influential researchers worldwide by global information services provider Clarivate’s esteemed 2023 list of “Highly Cited Researchers.

The list includes influential researchers at universities, research institutes and commercial organizations around the world who have demonstrated significant and broad influence in their field(s) of research. McCormack is the first Arboretum staff member ever to be included. He leads the Arboretum’s Root Biology Lab. Learning more about roots and their underground activities, which are not well understood, will greatly enhance the appreciation and management of trees, McCormack noted.

“It is a great accomplishment for tree root science to reach this level of impact, thanks to Luke’s steadfast work,” said the Arboretum’s Center for Tree Science Director Chuck Cannon, Ph.D. “Luke has been a leader in defining, recognizing and incorporating root dynamics, particularly fine roots, into broader ecological and ecosystem research. His numerous published articles with students and colleagues continue to fill in gaps in our knowledge about roots.”

According to Google Scholar, McCormack has received 8,326 citations since joining the Arboretum in 2018. His yearly citations have more than tripled from 2018 to 2023.

McCormack’s research influence includes his contributions to large collaborative groups working together across organizations on integrative global databases, such as the free and open access Fine-Root Ecology Database, the largest database of root traits. The TRY Plant Trait Database, the first of its kind with over 15 million plant trait records, is another freely available, public resource McCormack helps support.

Among his other top-cited research, McCormack led a 2015 foundational paper published in New Phytologist, entitled “Redefining fine roots improves understanding of below‐ground contributions to terrestrial biosphere processes,” which has been cited over 500 times in the past three years.

“It is an honor to be included on the list and see the impact this tree root science has had in helping to shed more light on the underground systems of trees and plants,” McCormack said. “This recognition also underscores how forest ecosystems depend on roots and their associated processes to be healthy, resilient and productive.”

Of the 7,125 total Highly Cited Researcher designations worldwide this year, with some individuals receiving multiple recognitions across different fields, 2,669 are from the U.S. The 2023 list was released on November 15.


About The Morton ArboretumThe Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and research. Its 1,700 acre site cares for 222,000 tree and plant specimens, representing 4,650 taxa from 40 countries. The Arboretum’s Center for Tree Science collaborates with researchers around the world, contributing scientific knowledge and technical experience to secure the future of trees. The Arboretum’s Global Tree Conservation Program leverages the expertise of the botanical garden community to protect and restore vulnerable and threatened trees. Its new Center for Species Survival: Trees, is the only tree-focused center designated by the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest conservation organization. Additional information about the Arboretum’s scientific work and how it contributes to a greener, healthier world for future generations can be found at