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Penny Chisholm

Penny Chisholm


  • B.A. 1969, Skidmore College
  • 1970, Cornell University
  • Ph.D. 1974, S.U.N.Y. Albany

Research Interests

  • General areas
    • Biological oceanography
    • Microbial ecology
    • Ecological Genomics
  • Current interests
    • Ecology, evolution, and comparative genomics of marine cyanobacteria and viruses that infect them
    • The ecological and policy dimensions of large-scale ocean fertilization

Teaching Interests

  • Ecology
  • Microbial Oceanography

Awards and Honors

  • 2022 Franklin Institute Laureate in Earth and Environmental Science, The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2019 Crafoord Prize in Biosciences, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Crafoord Foundation
  • 2018 Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) Harvard University
  • 2016 Jim Tiedje Award, International Society of Microbial Ecology
  • 2015 Appointed Institute Professor, MIT
  • 2015 Honorary Degree (Doctor of Laws) Skidmore College
  • 2014 Reial Acadèmia de Ciències i Arts de Barcelona, Correspondent Member
  • 2014 Killian Faculty Achievement Award, MIT
  • 2013 Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology, Government of Catalonia, Spain
  • 2013 2011 National Medal of Science, the White House
  • 2013 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2012 Elected Fellow, Ecological Society of America
  • 2010 Agassiz Medal:  National Academy of Sciences
  • 2005 Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science
  • 2004 – 2012 Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator in Marine Science
  • 2003 Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
  • 1997 – 1998 Guggenheim Fellow
  • 1996 Elected Fellow, American Geophysical Union
  • 1993 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
  • 1992 Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 1991 Rosenstiel Award in Ocean Sciences

Selected Publication

  1. 2023 Hackl, T., R. Laurenceau, M.J. Ankenbrand, C. Bliem, Z. Cariani, E. Thomas, K. D. Dooley, A. A. Arellano, S.L. Hogle, P.M. Berube, G.E. Leventhal, E.Luo, J.Eppley, A.A. Zayed, J.Beaulaurier, R.Stepanauskas, M.B. Sullivan, E.F. DeLong, S. J. Biller, S. W. Chisholm. Novel integrative elements and genomic plasticity in ocean ecosystems. Cell 186 (1) 47-62. E16
  2. 2023 Chitin Utilization by marine picocyanobacterial and the evolution of a planktonic lifestyle. Capovilla, G. R. Braakman, G. Fournier, T.Hackl, J. A Schwartzman, X Lu, A Yelton, K Longnecker, MK Soule, E Thomas, G Swarr, A Mongera, J Payette, J Waldbauer, E B Kujawinski, O X Cordero, S W Chisholm. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 120 (20), e2213271120.
  3. 2017 Cubillos-Ruiz, A. J.W. Berta-Thompson, J.W. Becker, and S.W. Chisholm. Evolutionary radiation of lanthipeptides in marine cyanobacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci. Published online June 19, 2017. doi/10.1073/pnas.1700990114
  4. 2017 Braakman, R. M.J. Follows, and S.W. Chisholm. Braakman R, Follows MJ, Chisholm SW. 2017. Metabolic evolution and the self-organization of ecosystems. Proc Natl Acad Sci. doi/10.1073/pnas.1619573114.
  5. 2015 Biller, SJ, P Berube, D Lindell, and SW Chisholm. Prochlorococcus. The structure and function of collective diversity. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 13: 13-27. doi:10.1038/nrmicro3378.
  6. 2014 Kashtan, N. SE Roggensack, S. Rodrigue, JW Thompson, SJ Biller, A Coe, H Ding, P Marttinen, R Stocker, M. Follows, R. Stephanauskas, and SW Chisholm. Single cell genomics reveals hundreds of coexisting subpopulations in wild Prochlorococcus. Science Vol. 344 no. 6182 pp. 416-420
  7. 2014 Biller, SJ, F Schubotz, SE Roggensack, AW Thompson, RE Summons, and SW Chisholm. Bacterial vesicles in marine ecosystems. Science Vol. 343 no. 6167 pp. 183-186
  8. 2010 Coleman, M. L. and S. W. Chisholm. Ecosystem-specific selection pressures revealed by comparative population genomics. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 107 (43): 18634–18639.

Science Books for Children

  1. 2017 Bang, M. and P. Chisholm. Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun moves water around the Earth. Scholastic. 42pp.
  2. 2014 Bang, M. and P. Chisholm. Buried Sunlight: How fossil fuels have changed the Earth. Sholastic. 42pp.
  3. 2012 Bang, M. and P. Chisholm. Ocean Sunlight: How tiny plants feed the seas. Blue Sky Press, Scholastic 42 pp. (AAAS Prize for Excellence in Science Books, and The Massachusetts Book Award)
  4. 2009 Bang, M and P. Chisholm. Living Sunlight: How plants bring the Earth to life. Blue Sky Press, Scholastic. 43pp. (AAAS Prize for Excellence in Science Books)