April 16, 2004
Hopkins Marine Station honored by the American Society for Microbiology
By Mark Shwartz
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) will designate Hopkins Marine Station as a "Milestones in Microbiology" site during an event that begins at noon Friday, April 23, on the Hopkins campus on Oceanview Boulevard in Pacific Grove, Calif. The dedication will take place in the Monterey Boat Works Auditorium and is free and open to the public. For directions, visit www-marine.stanford.edu/HMSweb/map.html.
The event will begin with the presentation of the 16th annual Van Niel Lecture, "Tree of Life -- Web of Life," by W. Ford Doolittle, director of the Evolutionary Biology Program at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The lecture series is named for Hopkins microbiologist Cornelis B. van Niel, who died in 1985.
Immediately following the lecture, ASM President Thomas Shenk will present a plaque commemorating Van Niel's long and distinguished career. The plaque will be affixed to the Loeb Laboratory, site of Van Niel's laboratory and classroom. Hopkins has served as Stanford University's marine biology research and education facility since 1892. For 32 years, beginning in 1930, Van Niel offered a popular summer course at Hopkins, presenting microbiology as a fundamental science in its own right with applications far beyond medicine and industry. His research in the 1930s on photosynthesis in bacteria yielded new insights into the photosynthetic process and demonstrated the potential for microbiology as a unifying science for biochemistry, biophysics, evolution and plant physiology.
Among those who attended Van Niel's summer course were Stanford undergraduates and scientists from a variety of disciplines. The course influenced the careers of many researchers, including several who became leaders in establishing the field of molecular biology. Graduates included physicists Max Delbrueck and Leo Szilard and Stanford Nobel laureates Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg.
Based in Washington, D.C., ASM's mission is to promote a better understanding of basic life processes and to use this knowledge to improve health, and economic and environmental well-being. Its 42,000 international members work in educational, research, industrial and government settings on issues such as the environment, the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, laboratory and diagnostic medicine, and food and water safety.