Awards

Awards will be presented during the banquet at the SIM annual meeting in New Orleans, Tuesday evening, July 26. The Thom Award will be presented on Thursday, July 28, following the lecture at 1 pm.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Society Awards:

Thom Award

Dr. C. Herb Ward, Rice University, Houston, TX

Dr. C. Herb Ward holds the A. J. Foyt Family Chair of Engineering in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University. He is also Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Herb Ward has undergraduate (BS) and graduate (MS, PhD, MPH) degrees from New Mexico State University, Cornell University, and the University of Texas School of Public Health, respectively. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Texas and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer in hazardous wastes management by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

During his 46-year tenure at Rice University he has served as Chair of the Departments of Environmental Science and Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering and he is the founding Director of the University's Energy and Environmental Systems Institute. He has also served as Director of the US EPA-sponsored National Center for Ground Water Research and the US DoD-sponsored Advanced Applied (Environmental) Technology Development Facility (AATDF).

Dr. Ward has been a science advisor to the US EPA, DOE, DoD and the Departments of the Army and Air Force, and was Chair of the DoD Strategic Environmental Research and Develop Program (SERDP) Scientific Advisory Board for seven years. Professor Ward is the founding and current Editor-in-Chief of the international scientific journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Ward's research and publications mostly focus on hazardous wastes, water quality, groundwater bioremediation, and microbial processes in the environment. He is co-author of the 2011 American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) report on "Microbes and Oil Spills" written to help the public and the press better understand the fate and effects of oil spills in marine systems. Herb is a Fellow of AAM and SIM and served as SIM President in 1983-84.

Porter Award

Vincent Gullo, Ph.D., Drew University, Madison, NJ

Vincent Gullo received his B.S. in Chemistry from the City College of New York in 1971 and his Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry from Columbia University in 1975 under the guidance of Professor Koji Nakanishi. With a strong background in natural products chemistry, Vince joined the Natural Products group at Merck Research Laboratories. There he worked on the isolation and structural elucidation of compounds from microbial sources found active in a variety of therapeutic areas, including antiinfectives, antiinflammatories, antiparasitic agents and cholesterol lowering drugs. Vince was fortunate in working on the team that discovered Primaxin, a broad spectrum antibiotic, Mevacor, the first cholesterol lowering agent (statin) and the anthelmintic, Ivermectin. In 1983, Vince moved to Schering Plough where he led the Natural Products Research group as an Assistant Director. The natural products group at Schering Plough developed new therapeutic assays, isolated and fermented microorganisms, screened extracts for bioactivity and through bioassay guided fractionation, isolated and identified bioactive compounds. With the advent of high throughput screening and combinatorial chemistry, the natural product group was ideally suited to expand their role and became the department of New Lead Discovery at Schering Plough Research Institute (SPRI). Many compounds were progressed from drug discovery to the clinic at SPRI. In 2003 Vince moved from his Senior Director position at SPRI to become Vice President of Drug Discovery at Cetek Corporation. At Cetek the research team discovered two exciting compounds, an anticancer compound and an antiviral compound. The anticancer compound was licensed to a large pharmaceutical company for further development. In 2007 Vince joined Drew University as a Research Fellow in the Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE). At Drew Vince enjoys working with students to discover novel antibacterial compounds.

Vince has been a member of the SIM since 1985 and has held numerous positions of leadership within the Society. In 1986, at SIM's launch of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology, Vince became a Senior Editor for this new journal. He held this position for 13 years. From 1992-1997 he served as Special Conference Chair. Vince is very proud of the role he has played in the SIM's special conferences. These special conferences have grown in importance both scientifically and financially for the SIM. In 1995 Vince was elected to the Board of Directors and in 1999 became President of the Society. In addition, to these major leadership roles, Vince has organized symposia for the annual meeting and published in the society's journals in the fields of new technologies for drug discovery and natural products. Vince has always enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere in the SIM and hopes to continue this relationship for many years to come.

Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award

Statement from the Waksman Foundation

Donald Ahearn, Ph.D., Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA

Donald G. Ahearn PhD is currently a research professor (Emeritus) of microbiology at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author or co-author of over 200 research reports on medically important yeasts and on bacterial and fungal colonization of indoor surfaces and industrial products, including cosmetics, catheters and contact lens materials. He has been mentor to over 60 MS and PhD students, most of whom are in industry. He is an adjunct faculty member and co-investigator of product-related adverse eye reactions at the Department of Ophthalmology, Emory University. He is a past-president of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and as a Division Officer for the American Society for Microbiology. He maintains membership in these and other professional societies including the Mycological Society of America, the Contact Lens Association of Opthalmologists , the Parenteral Drug Association and the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology. He has served as a public service consultant to the Centers For Disease Control and as a consultant microbiologist for various pharmaceutical and industrial microbiological laboratories with particular emphasis on mould contamination. He and Ellen, his wife of 52 years, are the parents of three sons with 7 grandchildren.

SIM Fellows:

Stephen Picataggio, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Verdezyne, Inc

Stephen Picataggio, Ph.D. is a microbiologist with over 25 years experience engineering industrial microorganisms and developing fermentation processes for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. He is currently the Chief Scientific Officer at Verdezyne, Inc. where he established and leads research programs on the metabolic engineering of industrial yeast strains for the production of ethanol and adipic acid, the precursor for renewable BioNylon. Prior to joining Verdezyne, he was Vice President of Metabolic Engineering at Synthetic Genomics where he established and led research programs on conversion of sugars and CO2 to advanced biofuels. At DuPont Central Research and Development, he formed and led a team that metabolically engineered the non-conventional yeast Yarrowia lipolytica and developed a fermentation process for the production of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, now sold as a neutraceutical under the name Natural Harvest.

Prior to that, he was one of the founding members of the team that engineered E. coli to produce 100MM PPY of 1,3-propanediol. At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, he led the team that engineered a pentose metabolism pathway into Zymomonas mobilis and developed an improved process for the conversion of cellulosic biomass to ethanol, now being further developed and commercialized in a joint venture between DuPont and Danisco.

At Henkel Research Corporation/Cognis, he established a metabolic engineering program and led a team that engineered the non-conventional yeast Candida tropicalis and developed a fermentation process used for the commercial production of long-chain dicarboxylic acids as precursors for renewable polyesters and polyamides. Steve earned his B.S. in Bacteriology and Public Health from Wagner College (1975) and his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Rutgers University (1983).

As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he characterized the E. coli xylose operon and expressed the xylose isomerase gene in yeast. He is a recipient of NREL's Staff Award for Outstanding Team Performance, DuPont's Sustainable Growth Award, the Environmental Protection Agency's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, and R&D Magazine's annual R&D 100 Award. He is an author of several peer-reviewed scientific publications, book chapters, an inventor on more than 50 issued and pending patents, and has served on the Editorial Boards of Metabolic Engineering, the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, Biotechnology Letters and the Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology.
Hideaki Yukawa, Ph.D., Director, Chief Researcher, Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology Group, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE)

Hideaki Yukawa, PhD is currently director and chief researcher of the Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology Group at the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE). Dr. Yukama's background is in molecular microbiology, applied microbiology, and enzymatic chemistry. He leads RITE's Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology Group in solving environmental problems using bioconversion. Based on novel technology, known as the "RITE Bioprocess," the group researches valuable chemicals from biomass, detoxification of harmful substances, and functional analysis of the microorganisms involved in these processes. Dr. Yukama has recently published much research on metabolic engineering of bacteria for lignocellulose biomass-based production of chemicals and fuels, specifically on Corynebacterium glutamicum and its close relatives (e.g, examining translation efficiency of antiterminator proteins, gene expression profiling, transcriptional regulation of multiple genes, glucose repression, and diversity of metabolic shift). Dr. Yukawa earned both his undergraduate degree and his PhD in Agricultural Chemistry from Tokyo University, Japan, in 1971 and 1983 respectively. He is a visiting professor at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, and has been honored with many awards including: the Nikkei Global Environment Technology Prize (2008); the Japan Bioscience, Biotechnology and Agrochemistry Society Award for Achievement in Technological Research (1997); the Tsukuba Award for Chemistry and Biology (1992); and the Japan Bioindustry Association Prof. K. Arima Memorial Award (1991). He has authored or co-authored nearly 150 articles and 13 book chapters.

SIM Young Investigator

Goutham Vemuri, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Goutham Vemuri is an Assistant Professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Chalmers University, Sweden. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology. He continued for his MS and PhD from the University of Georgia, Athens, GA in Biological Engineering.

Goutham advocates use-inspired basic research - advancing our fundamental scientific understanding in a way that benefits the society. His primary area of research is to understand the regulation of metabolism. His work integrates traditional biochemical engineering with high throughout biology to discover regulatory mechanisms, primarily in bacteria and yeast for applications in industrial biotechnology. Using this approach, he made significant progress in understanding the regulation of aerobic fermentation in industrially relevant microorganisms such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. He also studies the dynamics of signal transduction that enables cells to adapt their metabolism to the presence/absence of nutrients.