Mary Lidstrom, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, has been honored with the 2013 Procter & Gamble Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. This award recognizes distinguished achievement in research and development in applied and environmental microbiology. According to Colleen Cavanaugh, Harvard University, “Lidstrom is an outstanding microbiologist with an extraordinary ability to integrate fundamental studies of microbial genetics, physiology, and environmental science with cutting edge engineering techniques.”
Lidstrom received her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Oregon State University, and her Master’s and Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. Afterwards, she conducted postdoctoral work as a Leverhulme Fellow in Microbiology at the University of Sheffield, and has held academic appointments in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington, in the Center for Great Lakes Studies in Milwaukee and in Environmental Engineering Science at the California Institute of Technology. Currently, Lidstrom is the Vice Provost for Research, a Professor in Chemical Engineering and Microbiology and holds the Frank Jungers Chair of Engineering at the University of Washington (UW). She served as Vice Provost for Research from 2005 to October of 2010, and as Interim Provost for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Research in Lidstrom's laboratory is focused on molecular and metabolic manipulations of bacteria that grow on one-carbon compounds, the methylotrophs. Her group has applied combined genomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics approaches to understanding metabolic network dynamics in methylotrophic bacteria, and has applied these insights to understanding function and diversity in environmental communities of these bacteria. Alan DiSpirito, Iowa State University, says “her work not only helps to define several key steps in the global carbon cycle, it changed the field's views on interspecies gene transfer and metabolic modules, and the links between assimilatory and dissimilatory C-1 pathways.” Her work at the engineering/biology/ecology boundary has broad applications from bioremediation to biofuels to greenhouse gas emissions.
Lidstrom has a long history of carrying out interdisciplinary education and research at the engineering/biology interface. She has directed a Biotechnology Training grant, was Co-Director of the multidisciplinary NHGRI-funded Microscale Life Sciences Center for seven years, and led a team that developed novel approaches to teaching biology to engineers with no biology background. An interactive CD resulting from the latter effort was awarded the 2005 Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware by the National Engineering Education Delivery System (NEEDS). Lidstrom has led numerous collaborative projects including a 10-year NSF-funded interdisciplinary Microbial Observatory Project, a current DOE-funded interdisciplinary project involving methane cycling in a freshwater lake, and a current ARPA-E-funded interdisciplinary project to engineer methanotrophic bacteria for biofuels production. She also oversees the UW Genomics Outreach to Minorities program and sits on the external assurance board at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
In addition to being a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, she is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Washington Academy of Sciences. She is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and was the 2006 recipient of the ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award.