Stanford, CA —The National Academy of Sciences has awarded Arthur Grossman, of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Plant Biology, the 2009 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal “in recognition of excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae.” The award was established through the Helen P. Smith Fund.
Grossman is a pioneer in studying a broad range of topics about Chlamydomonas, a tiny green alga affectionately called Chlamy, which is present in soil and freshwater. He also brought Chlamy into the age of genomics by leading the project that helped to define its full genome sequence and then exploiting the genomic information. Chlamy performs photosynthesis like plants, but it diverged evolutionarily from flowering land plants about 1 billion years ago and therefore contains many characteristics common to all plants, as well as characteristics associated with animals but not with flowering plants. Grossman’s research is important both for understanding basic mechanisms in photosynthetic organisms as well as their evolution. He has investigated metabolic processes and the acclimation of algae and cyanobacteria (formerly called blue-green algae) to changing environmental conditions, the diversity of genomes of photosynthetic microbes in hot spring mats and the physiological functions encoded by those genomes, and energy use by photosynthetic microbes in the marine environment. In addition, he is part of a team working with new methods to study gene expression or transcriptomics in alga.
“Art is recognized worldwide as a major figure shaping our understanding of algae,” remarked Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. “We congratulate him on this honor.”
Grossman has been a staff scientist at Carnegie since 1982 and professor by courtesy at Stanford University. He received his B.S. from Brooklyn College, and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. Grossman received the prestigious 2002 Darbaker Prize for his microalgae work from the Botanical Society of America. He has served on numerous panels and editorial boards, including Current Genetics, Eukaryotic Cell, Molecular Plant, Plant Physiology and the Annual Review of Genetics. He regularly reviews papers for journals such as Science, Nature and PNAS.