Edward DeLong, who received his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego in 1986, has been selected to receive the 2009 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) D.C. White Research and Mentoring Award.
DeLong is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Division of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The award honors the late David C. White, who was known for his interdisciplinary scientific approach and for being a dedicated and inspiring mentor. DeLong will receive the award during the 109th General Meeting of the ASM May 17-21 in Philadelphia, Pa.
DeLong is known as one of the first marine microbiologists to apply novel molecular genetic methods to address fundamental ecological questions. He completed postdoctoral training at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he conducted some of the first molecular studies of microscopic phytoplankton called picoplankton. He developed methods to identify single cells through evolutionary relationships. His work opened a new window for the identification and characterization of bacteria in nature.
DeLong, a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, also worked on the use of gene cloning and sequencing as a way of analyzing complex microbial communities in nature. His pioneering research on bacteria-like microbes called archaea changed science's understanding of their role in the biosphere. Using molecular techniques, DeLong showed that archaea are widespread in the world's oceans.
Another of DeLong's significant contributions has been the identification of anaerobic methane oxidizing bacteria. This work is showing that individual groups of microbes are metabolically versatile, but in teams they can do almost anything that is thermodynamically possible.
ASM is the world's oldest and largest life science organization with more than 43,000 members worldwide. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences and promote the use of scientific knowledge for improved health and economic and environmental well-being.