Cheryl Kerfeld named AAAS Fellow

  • Nov 26, 2019
  • awards, Kerfeld lab
  • Future Scientists, Nonfeature News Story
  • By Aliyah Kovner (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Igor Houwat

Cheryl A. Kerfeld has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This honor recognizes AAAS members for extraordinary achievements in advancing science.

Kerfeld has been recognized for her, “distinguished contributions to the field of structure of microbial photosynthetic proteins and compartments, particularly the elucidation of design criteria of bacterial microcompartments.”

Kerfeld is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Structural Bioengineering at the Michigan State University-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is also guest faculty in Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology and Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Divisions.

Kerfeld’s research combines methods in bioinformatics, cellular imaging, and synthetic and structural biology to understand the fundamental principles of bacterial metabolism.

In addition to her ongoing work on bacterial microcompartments and cyanobacterial photoprotection, Kerfeld’s career has also focused on developing and implementing innovative undergraduate biology curriculum.

She first worked to improve the curriculum at UCLA, where she had completed her training as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Then, in 2007, she established the Genomics and Bioinformatics Education Program at the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. This program trains STEM faculty on how bioinformatics tools and resources can be used to help teach students through research projects.

Christoph Benning, PRL director, says, "This is a well deserved honor for Cheryl Kerfeld, recognizing her for her work in synthetic biology on bacterial microcompartments and the orange carotenoid protein. On behalf of everyone at the PRL, I would like to congratulate her."

AAAS’ annual tradition of recognizing leading scientists as Fellows dates to 1874. The list of distinguished scientists includes astronomer Maria Mitchell, elected a Fellow in 1875; inventor Thomas Edison (1878); chemist Linus Pauling (1939); and computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963).

As a side note, the PRL's own Tom Sharkey nominated Kerfeld for her 2019 fellowship.

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