Jennie Hunter-Cevera wins 2004 USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award

04/30/04

WASHINGTON, DC--APRIL 23, 2004--Jennie C. Hunter-Cevera, Ph.D., President, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Baltimore, will receive the 2004 USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award. Supported by the United States Federation for Culture Collections (USFCC) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the award recognizes Hunter-Cevera's remarkable expertise in collecting, maintaining, and preserving microbial cultures. At the ASM General Meeting, she will deliver the USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award Lecture, "Cultural Experiences of Thinking Like a Microbe."

An innovative scientist, Hunter-Cevera has created a host of techniques throughout her distinguished career for isolating and screening microorganisms, often discovering new species and products in the process. She began a program using ecological factors as a way to screen microorganisms living in natural environments; her work led to the successful isolation of Chromobacterium violaceum and the production of a new class of monobactam antibiotics from this microbe. She designed a program measuring enzyme activity that resulted in the discovery of a new enzyme class, the chloroperoxidases. While at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, she studied fungi and bacteria isolated from the contaminated Chernobyl power plant, along with specimens from the pristine environment of Russia's Lake Baikal. Microbes with novel enzymes have been isolated from these sites, as well as microorganisms with antimicrobial, anticancer, and novel herbicidal properties.

She is also known for her astute use of technology to manage culture collections. As a doctoral student, Hunter-Cevera initiated the first ecological computer database for comparative analyses of species and habitat relationships at Rutgers University. She founded the first industrial collection of recombinant microbial cultures; her published paper on establishing and maintaining such collections is a model for biotechnology resource centers. Another hallmark of Hunter-Cevera's achievements is her innovative application of existing technologies: at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, she deployed such techniques as infrared microspectroscopy and stable carbon dioxide isotopes to localize bacteria and characterize their biological activity.

An elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, Hunter-Cevera received her B.A. in biology and M.A. in microbiology from West Virginia University, Morgantown, and her Ph.D. in microbiology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is a past president of USFCC and of the Society for Industrial Microbiology.

The USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award will be presented at the 104th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), May 2327, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well-being, and the environment.

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