Milestone for Scripps Microbiology


The late Claude ZoBell, “the father of marine microbiology,” along with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, were honored by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) on May 22 on the Scripps campus.

Scripps was formally recognized as a “Milestones in Microbiology” site, one of only four such locations in the nation.

Before a crowd that included several members of ZoBell’s family and associates of the San Diego Microbiology Group, Scripps Director Tony Haymet accepted a Milestones in Microbiology plaque from ASM President Roberto Kolter.


According to the ASM, the oldest and largest single life science organization in the world, the Milestones in Microbiology program was established to recognize institutions and the scientists who worked there that have made significant contributions toward advancing the science of microbiology. The plaque will be permanently affixed to Hubbs Hall, site of ZoBell’s laboratory at Scripps.

In addition to Haymet and Kolter, highlighting the event were Art Yayanos, an emeritus professor of microbiology at Scripps, who gave an insightful snapshot on the historical contributions of ZoBell, and Scripps marine biologist Farooq Azam, who discussed today’s promise and potential of marine microbiology. Haymet described the importance of ZoBell’s accomplishments and heralded the importance of microbiology in the coming century.

ZoBell laid a scientific foundation that would shape the field of marine microbiology during his pioneering research career at Scripps. ZoBell collected the first live bacteria from extremely deep ocean trenches. He published nearly 300 scientific papers and, in 1976, founded the international Geomicrobiology Journal. He died in 1989 at the age of 84.


“There are only three other Milestones in Microbiology locations around the country and so this is a highly notable recognition of the contributions of Claude ZoBell and others at Scripps to the field of marine microbiology,” said Doug Bartlett, a professor of marine microbial genetics. “I myself have spent countless enjoyable hours reading over Claude’s contributions to microbial community development on solid surfaces and his work collecting microbes from great seawater depths.”

The event also featured a series of oral and poster presentations by local microbiologists working at Scripps Oceanography and elsewhere in Southern California in academia and in industry.

—Mario C. Aguilera

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