The 2010 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award is being presented to Kenneth H. Nealson, Ph.D., Wrigley Professor of Geobiology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, for applying new and innovative approaches to environmental microbiology. This award honors the late David C. White, who was known for his interdisciplinary scientific approach and for being a dedicated and inspiring mentor.
A founding father of geobiology, Nealson's interdisciplinary approach is seen in his work between the geological and microbiological sciences. His geobiology work began in the 1970s with his research on the biochemistry of iron and manganese in freshwater and marine environments. It led to the isolation and characterization of one of the first dissimilatory metal-reducing microbes, Shewanella oneidensis, that has developed into an important model environmental microorganism.
A pioneer of the bioluminescence field, Nealson was the first to describe the phenomenon of quorum sensing in luminescent bacteria that were symbionts in various marine organisms. This work encompassed microbial ecology, physiology, biochemistry, and genetics.
Recently, Nealson and colleagues have researched the function of microbial fuel cells, carbon and nitrogen processing in cyanobacteria using nano-SIMS, the genomics of important metal-biotransforming microorganisms, and the mechanisms of microbial mineral formation and dissolution. They have made exciting discoveries leading to applications, such as removal of toxic metals in water and electricity production. He is a key member of the astrobiology community and trusted NASA advisor. His creative thinking, scientific interests, and dedication to mentoring inspire the scientific community and students alike.
The D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award will be presented during the 110th General Meeting of the ASM, May 23-27, 2010 in San Diego, CA. ASM is the world's oldest and largest life science organization and has more than 43,000 members worldwide. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.