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Dr. Lois Wright Morton, Professor, Department of Sociology, Iowa State University

Dr. Lois Wright Morton, Iowa State University

BS Bowling Green State University
MS Syracuse University
PhD Cornell University

317C East Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
(515) 294-2843
FAX: (515) 294-2303
Curriculum Vitae

Lois Wright Morton received her Ph.D. in Development Sociology at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. She is currently a Professor of Sociology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. Dr. Morton directs the USDA-NIFA Climate & Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) , a transdisciplinary partnership among 11 institutions across the upper Midwest.

Dr. Morton’s areas of research include civic structure, social connections and human dimensions of natural resource management, performance-based agricultural environmental management in local watersheds , impacts of long term weather change on agricultural land use management , rural communities, and rural quality of life. Her most recent book, Pathways to Better Water Quality: The Citizen Effect (2011) focuses on farmer-led watershed management and citizen solutions to agricultural nonpoint source pollution and represents a summary of her water quality research and extension work. Other publications include a co-authored series on levees and flooding of agricultural lands; perceptions of landowners concerning conservation, grazing, fire and eastern red cedar management in tallgrass prairie (Rangeland Ecology & Mtg 63:6:645-654,2010); getting to better water quality outcomes: the promise & challenge of the citizen effect (Ag & Human Values 26:1:83-94, 2009, small town services and facilities and the effects of social networks and civic structure on quality of life (City & Community 2:2:101-120, 2003), definitions and theories of civic structure (Encyclopedia of Community, 1:179-182,2003), and selecting socio-economic metrics for watershed management (Environmental Monitoring & Assessment. 103:83-98). Dr. Morton is the project director for several grants including the 9-state USDA climate & corn-based cropping system coordinated agricultural project (2011-2016), the 4-state Heartland Integrated Regional Water Coordination project, the Iowa Learning Farms, and the Developing Local leadership & Extension Capacity for Performance-based Agricultural Environmental Management.


What's New with Dr. Wright Morton

If you’re interested in flooding, drought, leveed agricultural lands, river navigation and management of river landscapes or you’re fascinated by a good map, you will love this book! 223 full-color pages, hardcover. Read a sample chapter of Managing Mississippi and Ohio River Landscapes  here.

Read a review of the book here

Anna Johnson and Lois Wright Morton. "Midwest Climate and Specialty Crops: Specialty crop leader views and priorities for Midwest Specialty Crops" (Sociology Technical Report No. 1039) Feb. 2015

Morton, L. W. and S. Brown  (2011) Pathways for Getting to Better Water Quality: The Citizen Effect. Springer Science+Business

Buy a Print Copy of This Book

Selected Journal Articles

*co-authored with graduate students

Morton, L.W., S. Eigenbrode, and T. Martin. (2015) The Architecture of Adaptive Integration: Coordinated Agricultural Projects. Ecology and Society 20(4):5.

McGuire, J., L.W. Morton, A. Cast and J.G. Arbuckle. (2015) Farmer identities and responses to the social-biophysical environment. Rural Studies 39:145-155.

Wilke, A.K., and L.W. Morton. (2015)  Communicating climate science: Components for engaging agricultural audiences.  Communication Science. DOI: 10.1177/1075547015581927

Morton, L.W., J. Hobbs, J. Arbuckle, and A. Loy. (2015) Upper Midwest Climate Variations: Farmer Responses to Excess Water Risks. Journal Environmental Quality. 44:810-822 doi:10.2134/jeq2014.08.0352

Haigh, T, LW Morton, L Prokopy, C Knutson, M Lemos Y Lo, J Angel. (2015) Agricultural Advisors as Climate Information Intermediaries:  Exploring Differences in Capacity to Communicate Climate Weather, Climate and Society 7:1:83-93 DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-12-00036.1

McCutcheon, J.S., L.W. Morton, H.N. Zerby, S.C. Loerch, L. Miller, and F.L. Fluharty. (2014) Farmer perceptions of the opportunities and barriers to the production and marketing of grass-based beef and lamb in the Eastern United States. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. DOI: 10.1080/21683565.2014.986598

Morton, L. W. (2014). The science of variable climate and agro-ecosystem management. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 69:6:2017A-212A

Morton, L.W. and K.R. Olson. (2014) Addressing soil degradation and flood risk decision making in levee protected agricultural lands under increasingly variable climate conditions
Journal of Environmental Protection. Published online September 2014. Vol. 5:1220-1234

Wilke, A.K. and L.W. Morton, (2015) Climatologists’ patterns of conveying climate science to the agricultural community. Agriculture & Human Values. 32(1):99-110 DOI 10.1007/s10460-014-9531-5

Morton, L.W. Achieving water security in agriculture: The Human Factor. (2014) Greening the Agricultural Water System.  Agronomy Journal 106:1-4 doi:10.2134/agronj14.0039

Harr, R. N., L. Wright Morton, S. R. Rusk, D. M. Engle, J. R. Miller and D.
Debinski. (2014). Landowners' perceptions of risk in grassland management: woody plant encroachment and prescribed fire. Ecology and Society 19 (2):41


Selected Book Chapters and Technical Bulletins

Morton, L.W., and T. Rudel, (in press).  Impacts of Climate Change on People & Communities of Rural America. In E. Ransom, L. Jenson and C. Bailey (Eds.), Rural America in a Globalizing World.  Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

Hatfield, J. and L.W. Morton, (2013). Chapter 2 Marginality Principle. Pp19-55.In R. Lal and B.A. Stewart (Eds), Principles of Sustainable Soil Management in Agroecosystems. Advances in Soil Science. NY,NY: Taylor & Francis, CRC Press.

Morton, L.W. and C.Y . Weng,* (2013).  Health and Aging in Rural Communities.  In N. Glasgow and E. H. Berry (Eds.), Aging in Rural American 21st Century. New York, NY: Springer.

Walthall, C.L., J. Hatfield, P. Backlund, L. Lengnick, E. Marshall, M. Walsh, S. Adkins, M. Aillery, E.A. Ainsworth,C. Ammann, C.J. Anderson, I. Bartomeus, L.H. Baumgard, F. Booker, B. Bradley, D.M. Blumenthal, J. Bunce, K. Burkey, S.M. Dabney, J.A. Delgado, J. Dukes, A. Funk, K. Garrett, M. Glenn, D.A. Grantz, D. Goodrich, S. Hu, R.C. Izaurralde, R.A.C. Jones, S-H. Kim, A.D.B. Leaky, K. Lewers, T.L. Mader, A. McClung, J. Morgan, D.J. Muth, M. Nearing, D.M. Oosterhuis, D. Ort, C. Parmesan, W.T. Pettigrew, W. Polley, R. Rader, C. Rice, M. Rivington, E. Rosskopf, W.A. Salas, L.E. Sollenberger, R. Srygley, C. Stöckle, E.S. Takle, D. Timlin, J.W. White, R. Winfree, L. Wright-Morton, L.H. Ziska, (2012). Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation. USDA Technical Bulletin 1935. Washington, DC. 186 pages.

Hu, Z.* and L.W. Morton, (2012). Don’t Know Responses in Water Quality Surveys.  Water Quality.  InK. Voudouris (Eds.), Vol 1  ISBN 979-953-307-638-5 Retrieved from: