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Sallie W. Chisholm wins 2019 Crafoord Prize in Biosciences

by Craig Bettenhausen
February 8, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 6


A photo of Sallie Chisholm.
Credit: Richard Howard/MIT
Sallie W. Chisholm

Sallie W. Chisholm, a professor of biology and civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ 2019 Crafoord Prize in Biosciences. The academy is honoring Chisholm for her discovery of and research on Prochlorococcus, a tiny aquatic cyanobacteria that plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. Although Prochlorococcus is the most numerous and widespread photosynthetic organism on earth, numbering an estimated 3 × 1027 individuals in the global oceans, it was unknown until Chisholm’s team discovered it in the mid-1980s using flow cytometry on expeditions in the Atlantic Ocean. Subsequent research in Chisholm’s group has explored the organism’s genome, which contains one of the most genetically compact photosynthetic systems yet found.

Chisholm will give a lecture in connection with the award on May 13 at Lund University’s Crafoord Days, which also include a symposium on May 14 and an award ceremony on May 15. The honor comes with a prize of 6 million Swedish kronor (roughly $664,000). The Crafoord Prize is awarded in partnership between the academy and the Crafoord Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to “promote scientific training and research and also the care, upbringing and education of children and young people.”

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The dollar figure of the award was corrected on Nov. 7, 2019, from "roughly $664,00" to "roughly $664,000."


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