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Microbiology Academy Names Lorraine Pillus as New Fellow

March 20, 2018

By Mario C. Aguilera

Lorraine Pillus, professor of molecular biology and associate dean of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California San Diego, has been elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, which recognizes excellence, originality, and leadership in the microbiological sciences.

The American Academy of Microbiology is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which is the world’s oldest and largest life-science organization. The academy selected 96 new fellows in its 2018 class “through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.”

Pillus investigates genes’ chromosomal positions and local chromatin structure, which can have profound consequences for normal growth and development. She focuses on the form of chromatin regulation known as transcriptional silencing and studies its effects on yeast and human genes. Her science is noted for defining epigenetic control of processes as diverse as transcriptional silencing, DNA repair and cellular aging.

According to her nomination, Pillus is also being recognized for her long-standing contributions to service and leadership in the scientific community.

“Her service and leadership activities are legion…” one nominator noted. “Prof. Pillus is an engaged and compassionate educator and mentor who holds her students and trainees to the highest critical standards. Indeed, she is helping to build the next generation of scientific leaders, with trainees placed in diverse positions throughout the world.”

Pillus is former chair of the Section of Molecular Biology and has received teaching awards from the Golden Key Honor Society and students of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In November Pillus was named fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology Academy are eminent leaders in the field of microbiology and are relied upon for authoritative advice and insight on critical issues in microbiology. The academy has elected more than 2,400 fellows representing a cross-section of the microbial sciences in basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry and government service. Fellows come from all around the globe, with the 2018 class hailing from Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Switzerland, China, Israel, Austria, Sweden, Belgium and the UK. Brian Palenik of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego also was named a 2018 fellow.