Congratulations to Tanja Woyke, who has been awarded the van Niel International Prize for Studies in Bacterial Systematics for the triennium 2017-2020! Established by the University of Queensland in 1986, the van Niel Prize recognizes contribution of scholarship in the field of microbiology and is awarded on the recommendation of a panel of experts of the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Woyke will receive the prize at a future date.
In awarding her the van Niel Prize, the committee recognized Woyke as a pioneer in uncovering the hidden diversity of “microbial dark matter”–that uncultured and unknown majority of microbes in, on and around the planet–through techniques including single-cell genomics and metagenomics. They cited her “landmark” 2013 Nature paper, which uncovered nearly 30 major previously uncharted branches of the tree of life.
A senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Woyke currently serves as the interim deputy for JGI User Programs. Earlier this year, she was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM). She has led JGI’s Microbial Genomics Program since 2009 and heads the Single Cells group. Woyke also holds appointments as Adjunct Scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and as Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Merced. Woyke received a 2014 Berkeley Lab Director’s Award for Exceptional Scientific Achievement, and was among the Lab’s 2015 Women @ the Lab honorees.
Woyke is the second JGI scientist to receive the van Niel Prize; the 2011-2014 van Niel Prize was awarded to Nikos Kyrpides.