2021 SMBE Early-Career Excellence Award Winner: Kelley Harris
Kelley Harris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, as well as an Affiliate Assistant Member of the Herbold Computational Biology Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Her group is trying to understand how mutational processes are shaped by genetic drift and natural selection and how this evolutionary process in turn modulates the accumulation of genetic variation. After earning a B.A. in Mathematics from Harvard and an M.Phil. in Biological Sciences from Cambridge, advised by Richard Durbin, she completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley working with Rasmus Nielsen and Yun Song. Her postdoctoral work at Stanford in the lab of Jonathan Pritchard was supported by an NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship. The Harris Lab is currently supported by an NIH NIGMS R35 grant as well as grants from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Sloan Foundation, the Kinship Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
2021 SMBE Mid-Career Excellence Award Winner: Tanja Stadler
Tanja Stadler is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in Basel. Further, Tanja is president of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force. Tanja studied Applied Mathematics at the Technical University of Munich (Germany), the University of Cardiff (UK), and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand). She obtained a Master degree in 2006 and a PhD in 2008 from the Technical University of Munich (with Prof. Anusch Taraz and Prof. Mike Steel). Tanja then joined ETH Zürich as a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Sebastian Bonhoeffer in the Department of Environmental Systems Sciences, and was promoted to Group Leader in 2011. In 2014, she moved to the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering as an Assistant Professor where she obtained tenure in 2017. Her work is at the interface of mathematics, computer science, evolution, ecology and infectious diseases. In particular, she develops phylogenetic tools to address epidemiological and medical questions, as well as questions in the fields of ecology, species evolution, cell differentiation and language evolution. Her honors include the TUM PhD award 2008, the John Maynard Smith prize 2012, the ETH Latsis prize 2013, the Zonta prize 2013, and the ETH Golden Owl for teaching in 2016. In 2013, Tanja received an ERC starting grant. In 2020, Tanja received an ERC consolidator grant.
2021 SMBE Lifetime Research Achievements Award Winner: Michael Lynch
Michael Lynch is currently the Director of the Biodesign Center for Mechanisms of Evolution, Arizona State University, where he also heads an NSF-funded center grant focused on the cellular mechanisms of evolution. His research has long focused on the genetic mechanisms of evolution, particularly at the genomic and cellular levels, and on population-genomic analysis. His lab works with a number of model systems, most notably the microcrustacean Daphnia, the ciliate Paramecium, and numerous other unicellular prokaryotic and eukaryotic species. Current research foci include: the evolution of replication and transcription error rates; the consequences of genome duplication; the 5000 Daphnia genomes project; global patterns of genomic and cellular diversity in ciliates; the evolution of the transcriptional vocabulary; and long-term microbial evolution under regimes differing in population size, mutation rate, and degree of nutrient replenishment. All of this empirical work integrates with theory development. Lynch received his undergraduate degree in biology from St. Bonaventure University, and a Ph. D. in Ecology and Behavioral Biology from the University of Minnesota. He has previously held faculty positions at the University of Illinois, University of Oregon, and Indiana University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and is past president of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution, the Genetics Society of America, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the American Genetics Association. Three widely cited books are Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits (with Bruce Walsh, 1998), The Origins of Genome Complexity (2007), and Evolution and Selection of Quantitative Traits (with Bruce Walsh, 2018). His work is perhaps best known for its focus on the creative role played by random genetic drift and biased mutation pressure in driving diversification of genome- and cell-level features across the Tree of Life. Much of the research being done by others on the mutational meltdown, duplicate-gene subfunctionalization, and the drift-barrier hypothesis dates back to theory on these processes developed in the Lynch lab.
No Service to the SMBE Community Award was selected in 2021.