WWU alumnus honored with prestigious Shaw Prize

Mariko Osterberg
WWU Communications and Marketing intern
  • Greenberg. Image courtesy of the UW.
    Greenberg. Image courtesy of the UW.

University of Washington microbiologist and Western Washington University biology alumus Peter Greenberg has won the prestigious 2015 Shaw Prize in life science and medicine and will share a $1 million award evenly with microbiologist Bonnie Bassler, chair of Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology.

The Shaw Prize is an award to honor active scholars and scientists who have achieved significant advances and who have made outstanding contributions in academic and scientific research.  

This international award was established in 2002 to promote worldwide scientific research. Since 2004, a prize consisting of a medal, certificate and a monetary award of US $1 million has been awarded annually for significant achievements in astronomy, life science and medicine and mathematical sciences.

According to the UW Health Sciences News Beat, Greenberg and Bassler’s award-winning work centers on quorum sensing, a term coined by Greenberg to describe a process first shown in marine luminescent bacteria.

The light of a single bacterium is invisible to the unaided eye, but when enough luminescent bacteria cooperatively secrete a chemical, they make a quorum and create a light that people can see, Greenberg said in the UW press release.

Greenberg is also in the National Academy of Science and is a member of all the national prestigious organizations.  

“Dr. Peter Greenberg is probably WWU Biology’s most accomplished alum,” Joann Otto, Western Washington University professor of Biology and chair of the Biology Department said. “He is a WWU Distinguished Alum and serves on the CSE Advancement Board.”

Otto explains that the Shaw Prize is an incredible honor for Pete. It recognizes his significant contributions to our understanding of bacterial communication by quorum sensing.

The award will be presented to Greenberg and Bassler on Sept. 24 in Hong Kong.

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Monday, July 20, 2015 - 11:07am