Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington
Professor of Marine Studies David Kirchman.
Photo by Bob Bowden
David Kirchman’s research has taken him to remote places like Antarctica and Alaska. Now it’s landed him at the top of his profession. The Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, which means he’s a part of the leadership group of the oldest and largest single life-science membership organization in the world.
The organization is the American Society for Microbiology, which has been in existence for more than a century and has more than 43,000 members worldwide. To be elected a Fellow involves a rigorous process in which multiple committees consider candidates’ records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.
“It’s a great honor to be selected for this organization,” Kirchman said, explaining that the society covers every aspect of microbes, from industrial uses to biotechnology.
Members represent more than 26 areas within the field.
“I think it’s great when people working on marine topics are recognized by the society,” he said. “It helps the field a lot.”
Kirchman also expressed gratitude to his colleagues and friends who wrote letters supporting his candidacy. One of those letter-writers was Mary Ann Moran, who first met Kirchman when she was a graduate student and he was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Georgia. She praised Kirchman for his ability to “see systems as a whole and all the parts within it.”
“He sees all the complexity of marine microbes but can see patterns in the complexity,” said Moran, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia. “There’s a real value to that because sometimes the patterns are so complex that it’s discouraging.”
She explained that Kirchman is well known in their field for developing the standard way scientists measure rates at which bacteria grow in the ocean. One of Kirchman’s current projects involves studying chemoautotrophic microbes from waters off northern Alaska. Chemoautotrophic organisms get nutrients by oxidizing inorganic chemical compounds rather than through photosynthesis.
Kirchman will be welcomed to Fellowship at the ASM General Meeting in June.
To learn more about the College of Marine and Earth Studies, visit www.ocean.udel.edu.