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Westpheling to receive SIMB Charles Porter Award

Alan Flurry

Janet Westpheling, professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, has been selected to receive the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) Charles Porter Award. The award recognizes meritorious service to the Society as exemplified by Charles Porter, co-founder of the SIMB.

Dr. Janet “Jan” Westpheling is a dedicated and active member, volunteer, and leader within the SIMB community. As a member for over 25 years, Jan has taken an active role in many SIMB meetings including as a session convener, chair, and speaker. Jan’s first scientific talk at a meeting occurred at the 1985 SIM Annual Meeting. The Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology has also been impacted by Jan’s service, with her having reviewed articles for over 20 years. Jan has held SIMB leadership roles for 15 years as an SIMB Director, Treasurer, and President. Jan played a significant role in the modernization of SIMB’s finances and as President she oversaw one of the most challenging periods in our professional society’s history: the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Westpheling teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in genetics and trains undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral associates in her research laboratory. Her current research is focused on the development of genetic technologies for microorganisms that convert lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels and industrial chemicals and is funded by grants from the Department of Energy.

She recently finished a term as president of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, and serves on a number of editorial boards and review boards for the Department of Energy. She holds patents for microbial genetic technologies and is an active consultant to industries involved in the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for the production of fuels, chemicals, and biomaterials.

“I am honored to accept this award for service to the Society, which has been my intellectual home since I was a graduate student," Westpheling said. "I actually gave my first scientific presentation at one of its meetings and have truly benefited from being a member. I am proud to be one of many who have given back.”

Westpheling will receive the award at the Annual Meeting of the SIMB in August.

Image: Janet Westpheling, center, working with undergraduate students. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

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