Jay T. Lennon, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology at Indiana University Bloomington, has been awarded the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Those nominated and selected for this esteemed award are required to be internationally recognized for their academic achievements which have been proven by corresponding successes in research. The effect of their discoveries and theories must be lasting within their discipline and go beyond their immediate research area. They must show promise of continuing their outstanding research into the future.
Lennon's research explores the implications of diversity for the stability and functioning of ecosystems. He has made substantial contributions to the understanding of the ecology and evolution of microbial communities and their relationship to ecosystem function, notably the importance of dormancy as a mechanism that maintains microbial diversity. He has also led the way in developing a research vision to bridge the disciplines of microbiology and macroecology, which has led to new predictions for the number of species on Earth.
The Humboldt Research Award fund will allow Lennon to spend a year in Germany to collaborate on a research project with his nominator, Jochen Blath, a mathematics professor at Goethe University Frankfurt. Also collaborating on the project will be co-nominator Frank den Hollander, a professor of probability and a previous Humboldt recipient from Leiden University in the Netherlands.
The team will focus on the universal process of dormancy, whereby organisms can enter a reversible state of reduced metabolic activity.
Lennon notes, “Dormancy has evolved many times throughout the tree of life and allows organisms to contend with noisy and unfavorable conditions. The accumulation of dormant individuals creates a ‘seed bank’ which can stabilize populations in nature, but also can help explain the persistence of chronic diseases in humans and other hosts.”
Lennon is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), and the Ecological Society of America (ESA). He was recently elected as a member-at-large of the ESA Governing Board and is chair of the five-year “Climate Change and Microbes” Task Force for the AAM. Lennon serves as associate chair of the IU Department of Biology's Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior Section.