2005 SALLIE (PENNY) CHISHOLM
Dr. Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for her insightful and lasting contributions to the fields of biological oceanography and microbial ecology which have fundamentally changed our perspective of the nature of life in the sea.
Dr. Chisholm is a Professor in the Departments of Biology, and Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, Co-Director of the Earth System and Terrascope Initiatives at MIT, and a Visiting Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She holds a B.A. in Biology / Chemistry from Skidmore College and a Ph.D. in Biology from the State University of New York at Albany. Dr. Chisholm is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Geophysical Union, a recipient of the Rosenstiel Award in Ocean Sciences, and a recently-elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Chisholm's research has focused on the smallest of the photoautotrophic microbial community which is now known to be responsible for a large part of the primary formation of organic matter in the sea. She led a team that discovered the genus Prochlorococcus, the single most abundant phytoplankton taxon in the ocean, which has led to a transformation of our understanding of pelagic ecology, biogeochemical cycling and microbial evolution in the ocean. Dr. Chisholm has examined in detail the physiological ecology of the phytoplankton at various scales, from the community down to the individual cell, and is playing a leading role in the integration of genomics into marine microbial ecology. She has been highly influential through her collaborations and training of younger scientists, leadership on controversial issues such as ocean fertilization for carbon sequestration, service to the oceanographic and broader scientific communities, and public communications.