Photos by Evan Krape March 22, 2023
Professor Jennifer Biddle has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
University of Delaware Professor Jennifer Biddle has long been in love with microbiology.
When she was in fourth grade, Biddle remembers ruining the windowsill of her childhood home by putting wet bread out on the windowsill to watch how mold would develop. But it was not until the end of high school when she started learning about genetic material that her interest in microbiology really got sealed.
“Microbes are the most genetically diverse organisms,” Biddle said. “There’s such a wide range of diversity in microbes — it makes all humans, from Neanderthal onwards, look the same.”
Biddle’s life-long fascination with microbiology recently culminated in her being elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology.
The American Academy of Microbiology is a collection of accomplished scientists, both nationally and internationally, who study all forms of microbiology, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and algae.
The fellowship recognizes excellence, originality, service and leadership in microbial science. Biddle, a professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy, was one of the 65 fellows elected this year.
“I’m excited that the microbiology field has accepted me considering I am in a marine department,” Biddle said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”
Academy fellows represent a wide variety of microbiology sectors, including education, research, public health, industry and government service.
With this distinction, fellows get priority publication in American Society of Microbiology journals as well as contribute to discussion papers put out by the academy on topics related to the society goals and beliefs. Most recently, they released a discussion of microbes and climate change.
“It’s exciting to be able to get involved with things like this that should turn everybody’s head,” Biddle said.
Biddle earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from Rutgers University and a doctorate in biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology from Pennsylvania State University.
Biddle did postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University in geosciences and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in marine science before joining UD in 2010.
With the help of students and postdoctorates, Biddle and her collaborators have been able to release numerous papers. Additionally, last year she received the Joanna Simpson Mid-Career Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which landed her a place as an AGU fellow.
Biddle explained that both her publications and her placement as an AGU fellow helped her receive the academy’s fellowship. Biddle had a number of people supporting her and her nomination.
Biddle would like to give special thanks to her nominator, Gemma Reguera, who is a professor at Michigan State University, and those who supported the nomination, Kirsten DeAngelis, from University of Massachusetts, and Max Haggblom, who was her undergraduate professor at Rutgers.
“It was so cool to have that full circle moment,” Biddle said. “My undergrad professor was someone who has now nominated me for this great award.”
Despite focusing mostly on marine sciences now, Biddle’s love for microbiology has remained strong.
“I’m especially really thankful for the microbiologists at the University of Delaware,” Biddle said. “It’s amazing that we can all work together across departments and colleges.”