Two Indiana University scientists have been elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, the honorific leadership group of the American Society for Microbiology. It is a major honor for scientists in the field. Stephen D. Bell, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology and Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, and David M. Kehoe, a professor in the Department of Biology, will join a select number of their peers in the society. "Both of these scientists’ stellar records in microbial research are recognized by their election as AAM fellows," said Clay Fuqua, professor and chair of the Department of
Biology. "They, along with the other fellows in our department, clearly demonstrate the impact of the department’s microbiology research, and of the caliber of scientists who base their investigations at IU." Other recent IU electees to the academy include Patricia Foster in 2008; Carl Bauer, Stanley Spinola and Malcolm Winkler in 2009; Yves Brun in 2010; Roger Innes in 2011; and Fuqua in 2014.
An expert on the unique biology of the Archaea, Bell studies the molecular and cellular biology of this category of single-celled organisms without a nucleus. He is particularly interested in their mechanisms for DNA replication and cell division, as these represent a simplified, ancestral version of these mechanisms in humans, and therefore provide insights into the inner workings of human cells. A molecular biologist specializing in photobiology, Kehoe uncovers the molecular mechanisms used by photosynthetic organisms to sense and respond to changes in the environment. He is particularly interested in cyanobacteria, oxygen-producing microorganisms that gave rise to land plants and are present in nearly every type of habitat on Earth. His research is providing new insights into color vision in bacteria. A total of 79 fellows were elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015. Fellows of the academy are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology. There are over 2,400 fellows representing all subspecialties of microbiology, including basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry and government service. The American Academy of Microbiology, formed in 1955, is the world’s oldest and largest life science organization. The mission of the academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and to provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public.