Jo Handelsman (Cochair) is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Departments of Plant Pathology and Bacteriology. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1984 and joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Plant Pathology in 1985. Her research focuses on the genetic and functional diversity of microorganisms in soil and insect gut communities. The Handelsman lab has concentrated on discovery of novel antibiotics from cultured and uncultured bacteria and on the role of antibiotics and other small molecules in robustness and communication in microbial communities. She has also contributed to the development of functional metagenomics, which facilitates the genomic analysis of assemblages of uncultured microorganisms through expression of their genes in a surrogate host. In addition to her research program, Dr. Handelsman is nationally known for her efforts to improve science education and increase the participation of women and minorities in science at the university level. She served on the National Academies’ panel that wrote the 2006 report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, which documented the issues of women in science and recommended changes to universities and federal funding agencies. In addition to numerous scientific research publications, Dr. Handelsman is co-author of two books about teaching: Entering Mentoring and Scientific Teaching. Dr. Handelsman is an editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology and the book series, Controversies in Science and Technology, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Life Sciences and the National Institute of Medicine Forum on Microbial
Threats. She is a National Academies Mentor in the Life Sciences, a fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, co-founder of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute, President of the Rosalind Franklin Society, Director of the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, co-director of the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology, and chair-elect of the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
James M. Tiedje (Cochair) is a University Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Director of the Center for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. degree from Iowa State University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University. He has 30 years experience leading internationally recognized research on understanding the ecology, physiology, and biochemistry of microbial processes important in nature and of value to industry, especially to find ways to destroy hazardous wastes and to use DNA-based technologies to explore the unknown microbial world. He has received the Soil Science Research Award from the Soil Science Society of America, the Environmental Award from the American Society for Microbiology and shared the 1992 Finley Prize given by UNESCO for research contributions in microbiology of international significance. He is Fellow of the AAAS and Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Tiedje is past chair of EPA’s Science Advisory Panel (FIFRA), past chair of the Soil Biology Commission of the International Union of Soil Science, is past president of the International Society of Microbial Ecology, and is the past President of the American Society for Microbiology. He also serves on the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2003.
Lisa Alvarez-Cohen is the Fred and Claire Sauer Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in environmental engineering and science from Stanford University. Her research interests are on the microbial degradation of environmental contaminants in natural and engineered systems with focuses on emerging contaminants and application of innovative molecular tools. Dr. Alvarez-Cohen is an associate editor of Environmental Engineering Science and recently co-authored a textbook entitled Environmental Engineering Science.
Michael Ashburner is Professor of Biology at the University of Cambridge. He is the former Joint-Head of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI). Dr. Ashburner received both his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. at the
University of Cambridge, both in genetics. He then went to the California Institute of Technology as a postdoctoral fellow with Hershell Mitchell. In 1979, he returned to the Department of Genetics in Cambridge where he has been based since, as Assistant in Research, University Demonstrator, University Lecturer, Reader in Developmental Biology and Professor (Ad hominem) of Biology (since 1991). Dr. Ashburner’s major research interests are in the structure and evolution of genomes. Most of his research has been with the model organism Drosophila melanogaster, about which he has written the standard research text (Drosophila: A Laboratory Handbook, Cold Spring Harbor Press, New York, 1989, 2nd ed. 2005). He was a member of the consortium which recently sequenced the entire genome of this fly. His research has covered a range of subjects, from classical genetics, developmental biology, cytogenetics to evolution, at both molecular and organismal levels. Dr. Ashburner is a founder of FlyBase, a major database for researchers using Drosophila as a model organism, and of the Gene Ontology Consortium, a project to provide infrastructure for biological databases by a defined taxonomy of gene function. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Academia Europeae, a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, and past president of the British Genetical Society.
Isaac K.O. Cann is Assistant Professor in the Department of AnimalSciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his B.Sc. at the University of Ghana and his M.S. and Ph.D. at Mie University in Japan. He was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Microbiology at the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1994-1997, and was then a Research fellow at the Biomolecular Engineering Research Institute in Osaka, Japan. Following that he was a Senior Research Scientist at the Biomolecular Engineering Research Institute. Since 2001, he has been Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a faculty member of the Institute for Genomic Biology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Edward F. DeLong is a Professor in the Division of Biological Engineering and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his B.S. in bacteriology at UC, Davis and his Ph.D. at UC, San Diego in Marine Biology. He is a Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Marine
Microbiology Investigator, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Dr. DeLong is an Editor of Environmental Microbiology, and on the Board of Reviewing Editors at Science Magazine. He serves on the Scientific Advisory panel for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Scientific Advistory Committee for the DOE Joint Genome Institute, and the Fachbeirat (Advisory Board) for the Max-Planck-Institut fur Marine Mikrobiologie. Dr. DeLong’s lab is currently engaged in applying contemporary genomic technologies to dissect complex microbial assemblages. While biotic processes that occur within natural microbial communities are diverse and complex, much of this complexity is encoded in the nature, identity, structure, and dynamics of interacting genomes in situ. This genomic information can now be rapidly and generically extracted from the genomes of co-occurring microbes in natural habitats, using standard genomic technologies. Dr. DeLong and his research group have pioneered and applied these and related technologies, to better describe and exploit the genetic, biochemical, and metabolic potential that is contained in the natural microbial world. The central focus is on marine systems, due to their fundamental environmental significance to the oceans, as well their suitability for enabling new development of technologies, methods, and theory. Results from Dr. DeLong’s efforts include the discovery of new groups of marine planktonic Archaea, the development of cloning large genome fragments for characterizing indigenous microbes, and the unanticipated discovery of new photoproteins (protoerhodopsins) among many different groups of marine bacteria, using genomics.
W. Ford Doolittle is the Director of the Program in Evolutionary Biology of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, holds a Canada Research Chair in Comparative Microbial Genomics, and is Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University. He received his B.A. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He undertook postdoctoral work with Sol Spiegelman (University of Illinois) and Norman Pace (National Jewish Hospital and Research Center, Denver). Over the years, he has contributed to proof of the endosymbiont hypothesis, development of archaeal genetics, many aspects of prokaryote and eukaryote phylogeny, and the “intronsearly” and “selfish DNA” theories. Dr. Doolittle joined the Department of Biochemistry at Dalhousie in 1971. His laboratory currently employs culture-dependent (multi-locus-sequence-typing) and culture independent (fosmid-based metagenomic) methods to study recombination and lateral gene transfer in natural populations of hyperthermophilic bacteria and halophilic archaea. These microevolutionary studies are complemented with phylogenomic bioinformatics approaches to assessing the role of lateral gene
transfer in microbial macroevolution and its implications for phylogenetic reconstruction and classification.
Claire M. Fraser-Liggett is Director of the Institute of Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Until 2007 she was President and Director of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), which has been at the forefront of the genomics revolution since she co-founded the not-for-profit institute in 1992. Starting with her work in 1995 on the first bacterial genome to be sequenced, she has become an international leader in the field of microbial genomics and forensics. Dr. Fraser-Liggett has been a member of National Research Council committees on countering bioterrorism and on domestic animal genomics, and has served on review committees of the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Fraser-Liggett has published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and books. Before becoming TIGR’s president in 1998, Dr. Fraser-Liggett was the institute’s vice president of research and director of its microbial genomics department. Prior to that, she worked as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from State University of New York at Buffalo. She has received numerous academic and professional honors, including the E. O. Lawrence Award from the Department of Energy and the Promega Biotechnology Research Award from the American Society of Microbiology. In addition to her leadership of TIGR, Dr. Fraser-Liggett also holds professorships in Microbiology and Tropical Medicine as well as in Pharmacology at The George Washington University School of Medicine.
Adam Godzik is Professor and Program Director of the Program for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at The Burnham Institute and Bioinformatics Core Leader at the Joint Center for Structural Genomics, UCSD. Dr. Godzik is a physicist who is now applying tools of physics and computer science to analyze biological systems. He developed several protein structure and function prediction algorithms and led development of large biological databases, integrating results of experiment and theoretical analysis of individual proteins and entire genomes. He is a member of the Bioinformatics editorial board. Dr. Godzik received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Warsaw, Poland, and before joining the Burnham Institute worked at EMBL in Heidelberg and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.
Jeffrey I. Gordon is the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. He received his A.B. in Biology from
Oberlin College and his M.D. from the University of Chicago. Dr. Gordon joined the faculty of Washington University in 1981, after completing his clinical training in internal medicine and gastroenterology. He has remained at Washington University for his entire professional career. From 1991 to 2004, he was Head of the Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology. In 2004 he resigned as Department Head to become the first director of a newly founded Center for Genome Sciences. This new Center represents an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary, and multigenerational intentional community of faculty, post-docs and students who are geneticists, population biologists and biostatisticians, computational biologists and computer scientists, systems biologists and engineers, and microbiologists and ecologists. The focus of the Center is on comparative genomics and biodiversity, plus systems biology (an emerging area that seeks to describe how complex networks of interacting genes, proteins and metabolites function to maintain normal cells, and how these networks adapt to perturbations, including those brought about by various disease states). Dr. Gordon has published over 350 scientific papers, and is named as inventor or co-inventor on 23 US patents. He has received a number of honors in recognition of his scientific contributions, including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Margaret Riley is a Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received her Ph.D. in population genetics from Harvard University and performed postdoctoral research in microbial population genetics with a Sloan Postdoctoral Fellowship in Molecular Evolution. She joined the faculty at Yale in 1991 and recently moved to UMass Amherst. She has a broad set of research interests that range from studies of experimental evolution of microbes to developing novel antimicrobials and redefining the microbial species concept. Dr. Riley studies the evolution of microbial diversity, with a particular emphasis on the ecology and evolution of microbial toxins. She is co-founder of Origin Antimicrobials, Inc., whose mission is to discover and refine novel antimicrobials to address the challenge of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Riley is the Director of the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Program and the Director of the Museum of Natural History at UMass Amherst. From 1999 to 2002 she chaired the Gordon conference on molecular evolution and from 2003 to 2005 she chaired the Gordon conference on microbial population biology and evolution. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiologists.
Molly B. Schmid joined the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in January 2005 as Jacobs Professor and Entrepreneur-in-Residence. At KGI, she teaches Risks and Rewards in Drug Discovery and Development and continues to
explore her interests in chemical genetics and antimicrobial drug discovery. Formerly, she was Senior Vice President of Preclinical Programs at Affinium Pharmaceuticals (Toronto, ON); Senior Director, Functional Genomics & Bioinformatics at Genencor International (Palo Alto, CA); and Vice President, Research Alliances, with Microcide Pharmaceuticals (Mountain View, CA). From 1986 to 1994, she was Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, where her lab investigated bacterial chromosome structure and function, and her research group discovered Topoisomerase IV in Salmonella typhimurium, as well as a genetic strategy for identifying new antimicrobial targets. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Searle/Chicago Community Trust Scholar and a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Utah, and her B.S. from SUNY Albany.