Biographies in Microbe



In 1935 the Society of American Bacteriologists (now the American Society for Microbiology or ASM) began publishing a newsletter, which was designed to convey to members information of interest about Society affairs.  Occasional feature items were also included in the early issues, but it was in 1972 that a decision was made to offer a non-member subscription rate and to make the (now monthly) publication more attractive to non-members by expanding both the feature and book review sections.  Since then, ASM News (renamed MiICROBE in 2006) has included numerous articles of historical interest. 


See below for links to recent history-related MICROBE articles.  To access older articles, contact the Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA) Archivist at


For convenience, articles are categorized as follows:





(Listed by Date of Publication) 


*** Note - Site Under Construction - Additional References Will be Added Shortly ***



June 2014:

Meet Alice C. Evans (by Lorraine Findlay)

The Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives Committee presents a biography of the first woman president of the SAB/ASM.



November 2012:

Arthur T. Henrici, an Unsung Hero of Microbiology (by Martin Dworkin)

An energetic explorer of many enthusiasms, Henrici stuck with microbiology and made diverse and important contributions to the science



July 2011 (p. 319-23):

Herbert Conn: Mark Twain’s Microbiologist Muse (by Kenneth M. Noll)

A 1905 Twain story features an imaginary world containing human-like societies of microbes, noteworthy for their industriousness.


May 2011 (p. 221-25):

TMV in 1930: Francis O. Holmes and the Local Lesion Assay (by Karen-Beth G. Scholthof)

Holmes' development of a quantitative viral assay enabled him to identify the cause of tobacco mosaic disease and led to many additional insights




March 2005 (p. 108-09):

A Neglected Visionary (by Bernard Dixon)

Recognizing that systematics should not be totally inflexible, Ferdinand Cohn would have little patience with modern arguments over the significance of bacterial species.


February 2005 (p. 65-70):

What a Revelation Any Science Is! (by Lynn Margulis and Betsy Palmer Eldridge)

Sensitive to the environment in which diseases occur, Howard T. Ricketts was one of the first great microbial ecologists.




November 2001 (p. 555-59):

I'll Have the Chopped Liver Please, or How I Learned to Love the Clone (by Stanley Falkow)

A recollection of some of the events surrounding one of the pivotal experiments that opened the era of DNA cloning




November 2000 (p. 663-67):

Personal Reflections on Cholera: The Impact of Serendipity (by Richard A. Finklestein)

Cholera toxin was discovered in 1959; since then hypothesis-driven research—and serendipity—has yielded many insights.


August 2000 (p. 459-62):

In Love with my Job (by Amy Cheng Vollmer)

This personal reflection is one of several dozen presented in Many Faces--Many Microbes.


March 2000 (p. 137-41):

From the Clinical to the Research Laboratory: A Reminiscence (by Herman Friedman)

This microbiologist encountered several problems in a clinical setting and pursued them as research challenges.




August 1999 (p. 547-53):

Ferdinand Cohn, A Founder of Modern Microbiology (by Gerhart Drews)

Cohn described several key physiological processes in microorganisms and developed principles leading to modern taxonomy.




December 1998 (p. 688-92):

Christiaan Eijkman: Early Nobel Winner for Beriberi Research (by Jan Verhoef)

Although searching for an infectious agent, this bacteriologist linked beriberi with dietary deficiency.




p. 13-21, 1997:

Peter Mitchell and His Chemiosmotic Theories (by Milton H. Saier, Jr.)

Ridiculed at first, Mitchell's ideas about proton motive force proved to be visionary.




p. 539-543, 1996:

Martinus Willem Beijerinck (1851-1931) (by King-Thom Chung and Deam Hunter Ferris)


p. 307-10, 1996:

Metchnikoff and Syphilis Research During a Decade of Discovery, 1900-1910 (by Richard M. Krause)




p. 575-79, 1995:

Pasteur: High Priest of Microbiology (by Robert Krasner)


p. 17-20, 1995:

William Hayes: Pioneering Contributions Remembered (by Simon Silver, et al)




p. 555-58, 1993:

My Life and Hard Times with the Anaerobes (by Sydney M. Finegold)




p. 425-28, 1992:

Walther and Angelina Hesse – Early Contributors to Bacteriology (by Wolfgang Hesse)


p. 145-47, 1992:

Ludwik Hirszfeld’s Role in Polish Microbiology (by Mary Rolicka)




p. 661-65, 1988:

Elie Metchnikoff’s Bacillus of Long Life (by Debra Jan Bibel)


p. 182-85, 1988:

The Discovery of Microorganisms by Robert Hooke (by David Bardell)




p. 551-55, 1987:

Genetics at the Institut Pasteur: Substance and Style (by Jon Beckwith)


p. 366-69, 1987:

Waldemar Haffkine: Pioneer of Cholera Vaccine (by Edythe Lutzker and Carol Jochnowitz)


February 1987 (p. 75-77):

Van Niel Remembered (by Norbert Pfennig)




p. 328-33, 1987:

William Bulloch’s Pioneer Women of Microbiology (by Debra Jan Bibel)




p. 577-80, 1984:

Theobald Smith, 1859-1934: A Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute (by Claude Dolman)




p. 320-22, 1983:

Plasmids, Pasteur and Anthrax (by Perry Mikesell, et al)




p. 558-60, 1982:

Centennial of the Rise of Cellular Immunology: Metchnikoff’s Discovery at Messina (by Debra Jan Bibel)


p. 538-39, 1982:

C. B. van Niel’s 85th Birthday (by H. A. Barker)


p. 518-19, 1982:

Nathaniel Highmore’s Microscopic Observations in 1651 (by D. Bardell)


p. 346-48, 1982:

Felix d’Herelle: His Life and Work and the Foundation of a Bacteriophage Reference Center (by Hans W. Ackermann, et al)


p. 297-302, 1982:

Friedrich Loeffler and His History of Bacteriology (by D. H. Howard)


p. 271-72, 1982:

100th Birthday Tribute to Paul F. Clark (by W. S. Jeter)


p. 248-50, 1982:

The Etiology of Tuberculosis: A Tribute to Robert Koch on the Occasion of the Centenary of His Discovery of the Tubercle Bacillus (by Dieter Groschel)




p. 330-31, 1981:

Henry Power’s Microscopical Observations (by Raymond N. Doetsch)


p. 231-35, 1981:

Theobald Smith and his Presidential Address to the Society of American Bacteriologists, 1903 (by Claude Dolman)


p. 44-49, 1981:

Christian Gram on the Gram Stain in Letters to Carl Julius Salomonsen, 1883-1884 (by Hans Lautrop)




p. 194-96, 1979:

Is There a Place for Nikolai Gameleia in the Discovery of Bacterial Viruses? (by D. Bardell)


p. 77-83, 1979:

Stuart Mudd: A Microbiologist to Remember (by J. R. Porter) (article not available online; contact ASM Archivist to request a copy)




p. 157-59, 1978:

Pasteur and Great Britain (by Marie-Louise Hemphill)




p. 298-99, 1977:

Pasteur at Arbois (by Marie-Louise Hemphill)




p. 531-35, 1976:

Elizabeth McCoy, Pioneer Microbiologist (by Elizabeth O’Hern)


p. 193-198, 1976:

A Triad of Centennials (by Raymond N. Doetsch)   (article not available online; contact ASM Archivist to request a copy)

Re: Leeuwenhoek, Spallanzani, Koch; Includes notes from ambassadors from Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France




p. 805-810, 1975:

Rebecca Craighill Lancefield, Pioneer Microbiologist (by Elizabeth O’Hern)


February 1975 (p. 85-91):

Lore A. Rogers, A Rare Species (by John A. Alford)




p. 703-09, 1974:

Pasteur’s Dilemma – The Road Not Taken (by Rene Dubos)


p. 265-68, 1974:

A Pioneer Microbiologist, Frank S. Billings (1845-1912) (by Norman R. Underdahl)




September 1973 (p. 573-78):

Alice Evans, Pioneer Microbiologist (by Elizabeth M. O'Hern)


For questions, additional information, or for articles not available online, please contact the ASM Archivist


For a list of other categories of history-related MICROBE articles, click the links below: