January 2011

ASBMB education award goes to Cheryl A. Kerfeld

Cheryl A. Kerfeld, a structural biologist and the head of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute’s Education and Structural Genomics Programs, has been named the recipient of the 2011 ASBMB education award.


“New technologies are catalyzing the convergence of teaching and research experience like never before. It’s a great honor to be able to help so many talented and dedicated educators find ways to incorporate genomics and bioinformatics into their courses and their undergraduate research programs.” – CHERYL A. KERFELD

Cheryl A. Kerfeld, a structural biologist and the head of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute’s Education and Structural Genomics Programs, has won the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Award for Exemplary Contributions to Education.

“The integration of bona fide research and development of critical thinking skills into undergraduate education has no greater or more effective advocate than Cheryl Kerfeld,” said Kathleen Scott, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, who supported Kerfeld’s nomination for the award.

Colleagues underscore that Kerfeld has pushed the envelope for education both in the classroom and on the national scale.

“She is tireless in providing opportunities for authentic research projects with genomics in silico and wet lab projects,” said Cheryl P. Bailey, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “and she continues to advance the field of structural genomics.”

Kerfeld, who has bachelor’s degrees in biology and English, a master’s degree in English and a doctorate in biology, developed and directed the University of California, Los Angeles Undergraduate Genomics Research Initiative.

“Cheryl has overcome the intimidating nature of DNA sequencing and genome annotation using the how-to-eat-an-elephant strategy,” explained Christopher Kvaal, an associate professor at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota and one of Kerfeld’s nominators. “In the case of DNA sequencing of the Ammonifex degensii genome at UCLA, Cheryl broke up the work into different undergraduate classes that fed each other: One course isolated DNA, another cloned fragments of the genome, and another performed the (polymerase chain reaction) and operated the DNA analyzer.”


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Congratulations, Dr. Kerfeld! I am inspired by your idea to incorporate a student lab course into the work of your own lab. The efforts of an outstanding educator are not normally recognized - kudos to ASBMB! Grace Ha Postdoctoral Research Fellow NIMH/NIH



  • Wow,

    Even being a statistician, what you do is over my head. Congrats to my HS Chemistry partner. Sue McCarthy

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