Jonathan A. Eisen, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis Health System, has been elected as a fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, the honorific leadership group of the American Society for Microbiology, which is the world's oldest and largest life-science organization. Eisen is also professor of evolution and ecology in the College of Biological Sciences and a member of the UC Davis Genome Center
As a fellow, Eisen joins a group of eminent leaders in the field of microbiology recognized for their excellence, originality, creativity and exemplary careers in basic and applied research, teaching, clinical and public health, industry or government service. The academy relies on fellows for authoritative advice and information on critical issues in microbiology, from responding to congressional inquiries to organizing meetings and workshops.
Eisen is an expert in microbial genomics, diversity and evolution. He has led many microbial genome sequencing projects, including the "Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea" at the Department of Energy-Joint Genome Institute. In addition, he has helped pioneer the field of phylogenomics, which involves integrating genome analyses with evolutionary reconstructions.
From a research point of view, Eisen has focused on the origin of new functions and processes in microbes, including studies of uncharacterized branches on the tree of life and of symbioses involving microbes. He has studied many medically and economically important symbioses, including microbes in the human gut and nitrogen-fixing symbionts of plants and microbes that live in the guts of insect pests, such as the glassy winged sharpshooter, a vector for Pierce's disease in grapes.
"I am interested in understanding the mechanisms by which organisms acquire new functions, learning how communities of microbes and their genomes function in nature, and using genomics to explore less-studied branches in the tree of life," said Eisen, who has published more than 200 scientific papers and is a co-author of the textbook Evolution. In addition, he is an active and award-winning blogger, a strong advocate for open access to scientific literature and academic editor-in-chief of PLoS Biology.
Eisen will be recognized at the Academy Fellows Luncheon at the 112th American Society for Microbiology meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, June 19.