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Swarthmore Microbiologist to Head Waksman Foundation


Swarthmore Microbiologist to Head Waksman Foundation


This month, Swarthmore College Professor of Biology Amy Cheng Vollmer will assume the presidency of the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology. She is the fourth president in the history of the foundation, known in recent years for supporting critical areas viewed as underfunded by other agencies, including the education and training of young scientists, use of contemporary communications technology in teaching, support of microbiological science in developing countries, and programs to improve K-12 science teaching and science reporting in the media.

"Both the Waksman Foundation and Swarthmore College support excellence in education and research," says Vollmer, whose research focuses on the bacterial stress response. "I am pleased that the association between the two are strengthened by our leadership and alumni connections."

From left, Amy Cheng Vollmer and Nan Waksman Schanbacher '72

Those connections include Byron Waksman '40, an immunologist and the Foundation's second president, and Nan Waksman Schanbacher '72. Schanbacher, granddaughter of the Foundation's founder, will serve as vice president and chair of the board. "I believe it's fitting that the Foundation's headquarters are now here at Swarthmore," Vollmer adds, noting that they are housed in the microbiology research laboratory in the College's Martin Biological Laboratories.

Vollmer, a member of the Swarthmore faculty since 1989, is chair-elect of the General Microbiology Division of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). She is also a nationally-consulted expert on microbiology education, having served as the editor-in-chief for four years of the peer-reviewed journal Microbiology Education, now the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education. Last year, Vollmer received the Carksi Distinguished Undergraduate Educator Award, which is awarded by the ASM. The address she gave upon receiving the award is featured here.

The Waksman Foundation was founded in 1951 by Selman A. Waksman, who received the 1952 Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of streptomycin, the first effective treatment against tuberculosis in humans. The Foundation has supported research and education in the general field of microbiology, including medical disciplines, agricultural and soil microbiology, marine microbiology, and the diverse environmental interactions of microbes.


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