Texas A&M Provost Honored With Mildred Cohn Award
Texas A&M University Provost and Executive Vice President Carol A. Fierke has received the 2020 Mildred Cohn Award in Biological Chemistry from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).
Fierke, who also serves as professor of chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M, was the lone scholar in Texas among 12 prominent scientists recently honored with national ASBMB awards. She is the eighth recipient of a Cohn award since the ASBMB distinction debuted in 2013.
The award, which carries a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to deliver the Mildred Cohn Award Lecture at the ASBMB Annual Meeting in April in San Diego, California, honors scientists who have made substantial advances to the understating of biological chemistry using innovative physical approaches.
“I have followed and been inspired by Carol’s deep and incisive approaches to fundamental problems in enzymology and biology,” said Dr. Daniel Herschlag, professor of biochemistry at Stanford University. “As befits the strongest candidates for the Mildred Cohn Award, Carol’s service to the scientific community, at all levels including diversity awareness, has been unparalleled.”
The Cohn award was named for the late Mildred Cohn, the first female ASBMB president, and is presented annually to a recipient nominated by a society member.
“I am very humbled to receive an award named in honor of Mildred Cohn,” Fierke said. “She was an inspirational scientist, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to meet her and hear her speak.”
Fierke is an internationally respected expert on enzymes, metal toxicity, biomolecules, RNA and proteins. Her interdisciplinary research team explores human metabolism and disease processes to explore medically important treatments and novel ways of understanding the mechanisms used by biological catalysts. Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies and foundations, including the National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Office of Naval Research, the Keck Foundation and the Welch Foundation.
“Carol’s research has provided valuable insights into fundamental biochemical process that impact a wide range of biomedical and industrial problems,” said Dr. Patrick Casey, senior vice dean of research at Duke-NUS Medical School and James. B. Duke Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University. “She has published extensively, with more than 10,000 citations of her research in a variety of fields from medicine to materials science, testifying to the influence of her work on basic science and applications that better mankind.”
In addition to recognizing a scholar’s significant contributions within their field of study, the Cohn award celebrates recipients for training and mentoring emerging scientists.
“Carol approaches mentorship with the same vigor and rigor with which she attacks scientific problems,” said Fierke’s award nominator Dr. James Bardwell, Rowena G. Matthews Collegiate Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “No one she has touched as a mentor comes away unchanged. Her students and faculty are now training others, which has resulted in an exponential expansion of effective mentorship in the enzymology community.”
Fierke’s numerous distinctions include her 2006 election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow in the American Chemical Society (ACS) and a Sigma XI Monie A. Ferst Award from the Georgia Institute of Technology for her skill as a mentor to more than 130 scientists, particularly women in STEM fields. She received the 2016 ACS National Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences and the ACS Repligen Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes.
Fierke earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Brandeis University and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carleton College. She joined Texas A&M University as Provost and Executive Vice President in 2017 after serving in faculty and leadership roles at Duke University and the University of Michigan.
View the full list of 2020 ASMB award winners on the Science Magazine website.