Joan W. Bennett is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ. From 1971-2006, she was a faculty member at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She is trained as a fungal geneticist and during much of her career studied the genetics, biosynthesis and molecular biology of mycotoxin production in Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she became interested in fungal volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Her laboratory at Rutgers University has focused on the development of genetic models for testing the physiological effects of fungal VOCs, using natural mixtures emitted by growing filamentous fungi as well as chemical standards of individual VOCs. During her years at Tulane, she taught a variety of course in genetics ranging from the freshman through the graduate level, and was awarded the Newcomb College Mortarboard Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1975; elected Honors Professor of the Year in 1991, was giving a special award by the Tulane Honors Program for having supervised more undergraduate honors theses than any other faculty member in 2003; and was recognized as Outstanding Faculty Fellow of Newcomb College in 2006. The American Society for Microbiology recognized her focus on educational excellence with the Carksi Teaching Award in 2001. Throughout her career, Joan has had taken a special interest in the advancement of women and minorities in science and she continues to work hard on behalf of women’s issues at the local, national, and international levels.
Professor Bennett is a past president of both the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (2001-2002) and the American Society for Microbiology (1990-1991). She is a past co-editor-in-chief of Advances in Applied Microbiology and past editor-in-chief of Mycologia. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Upsala College (East Orange, New Jersey) and Bethany College (Bethany, West Virginia), and is an honorary Professor of the, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Science (Beijing, China). She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, the same year she received the Charles Porter Award of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.