Public Release: 

OU professor named recipient of prestigious DOE Lawrence award

University of Oklahoma

University of Oklahoma Professor Jizhong Zhou will receive the U.S Department of Energy's highest scientific award from U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year. The prestigious 2014 Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award acknowledges outstanding contributions in the biological and environmental sciences supporting research and development of the U.S. Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national, economic and energy security of the United States.

Zhou, George Lynn Cross Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, OU College of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Institute for Environmental Genomics, is being honored for outstanding accomplishments in environmental genomics and microbial ecology, including the development of innovative metagenomics technologies for environmental sciences, for groundbreaking discoveries to understand the feedbacks, mechanisms, and fundamental principles of microbial systems in response to environmental change, and for transformative leadership to elucidate microbial ecological networks and to link microbial biodiversity with ecosystem functions.

"Professor Zhou is an extraordinarily innovative and prolific researcher who has pioneered advances at the intersection of biology and the environment," said OU Vice President for Research Kelvin Droegemeier. "He also is leading new international collaborations at the institutional level that will continue expanding the University's leadership position. This recognition, named after one of history's foremost nuclear physicists, appropriately recognizes Professor Zhou's work," he said.

Zhou is also an adjunct senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Zhou received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the President of the United States in 2001, Environmental Sciences Division Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award in 2001 and the R&D 100 Award for development of the GeoChip--one of the top 100 most outstanding technology developments of 2009, and the first award of its kind for Oklahoma. GeoChip is a novel high-throughput metagenomics tool that can detect hundreds of thousands of functional genes and processes in microbial communities with many applications.

Since 1959, the Lawrence Award has recognized mid-career scientists and engineers in the United States who have advanced new research and scientific discovery in the chemical, biological, environmental and computer sciences; condensed matter and materials; fusion and plasma sciences; high energy and nuclear physics; and national security and nonproliferation.

The Lawrence Award was established by President Dwight Eisenhower to honor the memory of Dr. Ernest Orlando Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron--an accelerator of subatomic particles--and received a 1939 Nobel Laureate in physics for the achievement. Dr. Lawrence later played a leading role in establishing the U.S. system of national laboratories, and today, the Energy Department's national laboratories in Berkeley and Livermore, California, bear his name.

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For more information about the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award and the contributions each award recipient has made to U.S. leadership in energy, science and security, please visit http://science.energy.gov/lawrence/.

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