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Lenski receives NatSci Meritorious Faculty Award

Richard Lenski portrait
Richard Lenski

Richard Lenski, a Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Department of Microbiology, Genetics, & Immunology, received the 2024 Meritorious Faculty Award.

He is known worldwide for the long-term evolution experiment — sometimes called the “Lenski experiment” — with E. coli bacteria that he started in 1988, and which continues today. Eminent evolutionary biologist Doug Futuyma remarks that the work is “an absolutely magnificent achievement.”

Without the Lenski experiment, many aspects of the evolutionary process would still be hidden today.

Lenski’s impact on students and trainees is also legendary. He has mentored more than 50 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. In addition, he has mentored people from underrepresented backgrounds in science, helping enhance the diversity of the U.S. workforce. 

“I owe my continued success as a disabled researcher to Dr. Lenski,” wrote Kyle Card, who earned his doctoral degree working in Lenski’s lab. “He saw my potential long before I saw it in myself . . . He cultivates a laboratory where a currency of respect is valued above the research we do. These qualities make him an outstanding scientist — and an even better human being.”

Read the full awards story in the College of Natural Science.