Texas A&M University biologists Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen and Dr. Matthew S. Sachs have been elected as fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Formed in 1955, the Academy is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world's oldest and largest life science organization. Fellows are elected each year via a highly selective, peer-review process culminating in a coveted mark of distinction in microbiology by one's peers. The Academy's mission is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and to provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.

"Academy fellows are eminent leaders in the field of microbiology and are relied upon for authoritative advice and information on critical issues in microbiology," said Dr. Bonnie L. Bassler, Chair of the Board of Governors for the American Academy of Microbiology, in her congratulatory email.

Bell-Pedersen and Sachs, along with two additional Texas A&M faculty members -- food microbiologist Dr. Gary Acuff and plant pathologist Dr. Marty Dickman -- will be formally recognized at the Academy Fellows Luncheon and Meeting in conjunction with the 114th ASM General Meeting, set for May 17-20 in Boston.

"Drs. Bell-Pedersen and Sachs are a critical part of the very impressive group of professors in Biology who study the basic biology and pathogenic aspects of microbes," said Dr. Thomas McKnight, professor and head of the Texas A&M Department of Biology. "Their students and colleagues have known about their terrific success, both in research and in the classroom, for a long time. Now, it's wonderful to see that their leadership and contributions to the field of microbiology have achieved national recognition with this prestigious award."

Bell-Pedersen, an internationally recognized leader in the fields of circadian and fungal biology, joined the Texas A&M Department of Biology faculty in 1997 following postdoctoral work at Dartmouth Medical School that focused on molecular studies of the circadian biological clock in Neurospora crassa, a filamentous fungus (mold) that has been used as a model organism for research since the 1940s. An expert in the mechanisms underpinning the biology of cellular clocks, Bell-Pedersen helped sequence the Neurospora genome. Her laboratory also made the first DNA chips containing both the fungus's genes and major insights into its biological clock. She is a standing member of a National Institutes for Health (NIH) study section, and in addition to serving as elected chair of the Neurospora Policy Committee, she was selected as program chair for the 2012 Society for Research on Biological Rhythms. She has more than 50 publications in top-tier journals and served as a principal investigator on Texas A&M's first NIH Program Project (P01) grant (2000-2010). Last fall she was honored with the 2013 Texas A&M Women Former Students' Network (WFSN) Eminent Scholar Award.

Sachs also studies the model organism Neurospora crassa in fundamental research that seeks a better understanding of two key areas of biology: post-transcriptional control mechanisms vital to gene expression and fungal biology at the whole-genome level. His laboratory has made breakthrough discoveries involving peptides and their roles in stalling protein synthesis as well as synthesis rates of core components of the circadian clock. Sachs joined Texas A&M Biology in 2007 after 17 years as a faculty member in Oregon, where he was one of the principal investigators for a National Science Foundation-funded project that obtained the first genome sequence of a filamentous fungus in 2003. He also is a co-PI on a subsequent NIH Program Project (P01) grant to further study Neurospora -- research he developed into a capstone research program course co-taught with Bell-Pedersen for Texas A&M biology majors. A current member of the Neurospora Policy Committee, Sachs has served since 1999 as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Fungal Genetics Stock Center and on the editorial boards for several journals, including Eukaryotic Cell, Fungal Genetics and Biology, G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics and Translation. He is a 2014 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

To learn more about the American Academy of Microbiology, visit http://academy.asm.org/index.php/about-aam.

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About the American Society for Microbiology: The American Society of Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of more than 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide. For more information, go to http://www.asm.org/.

About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents annual expenditures of more than $820 million. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Deborah Bell-Pedersen

  • Dr.Matthew S. Sachs

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