American Philosophical Society
Member History

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2. Biological Sciences[X]
205. Microbiology[X]
1Name:  Dr. Carl R. Woese
 Institution:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 Year Elected:  2004
 Class:  2. Biological Sciences
 Subdivision:  205. Microbiology
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Deceased
 Birth Date:  1928
 Death Date:  December 30, 2012
By combining the methods of evolutionary biology and microbiology, Carl Woese used ribosomal RNA sequence data as an evolutionary measure to develop a phylogenetically based classification system, initially for prokaryotic bacteria and ultimately for all living organisms. In doing so he effectively discovered a new domain of life, the Archaea, comprised of unique microbes including methanogens and thermophiles; he also published the first complete genome structure of this newly recognized life form. This work is of profound significance in understanding the origins of life on earth and the process of adaptation to extreme environments. In overturning the long-held traditional dichotomization of life into eukaryotes and prokaryotes, he revolutionized biology, profoundly and fundamentally changed the world's view of living organisms. Dr. Woese was Stanley O. Ikenberry Professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois, where he had taught since 1964. A graduate of Yale University (Ph.D., 1953), he had been honored with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Award (1984); the Leeuwenhoek Medal (1990); the National Academy of Sciences' Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology (1997); the National Medal of Science (2000); the Crafoord Award of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2003); the 2009 Abbott-ASM Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Microbiology; and membership in the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Carl Woese died December 30, 2012, at the age of 84 in Urbana, Illinois.
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