The American Academy of Microbiology has named three Washington University in St. Louis faculty members as fellows: Gautam Dantas, professor of pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine, and Robert Kranz and Petra Levin, professors of biology in Arts & Sciences. The faculty are among 109 fellows elected this year to the academy, which recognizes scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.
Also a professor of biomedical engineering and of molecular microbiology, Dantas studies microbial communities that live in the environment and on people and animals. His work on soil microbes helped explain how antibiotic resistance emerges and spreads. He also studies how the intestinal microbiome becomes established in childhood, and showed that treating babies with antibiotics reduces the variety of healthy bacteria in their guts and promotes the growth of drug-resistant species.
Kranz has built his career around understanding cytochrome c, a biological molecule that moves energy and is critical for sustaining life. He is known for leading studies that have revealed that there are three biological pathways for making cytochrome c, and that the pathway used varies across organisms.
Levin leads groundbreaking research into how bacterial cells respond to environmental changes. She looks at how changes in the availability of essential nutrients can alter bacterial cell growth rate, shape and composition. Her work has provided insights into mechanisms underlying antibiotic tolerance and resistance. Levin recently was awarded a $2 million Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Fellows are chosen annually through a selective, peer review process for their scientific achievements in the field of microbiology.