Rutgers Scientist Kay Bidle Wins Prestigious Moore Foundation Award

Rutgers Scientist Kay Bidle Wins Prestigious Moore Foundation Award

Marine Microbiology Investigator award funds pioneering research in marine microbial ecology

What’s better for a scientist than winning the lottery? Winning a five-year award from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Rutgers’ marine scientist Kay Bidle, associate professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, joins 15 other scientists from institutions like Harvard, Cal Tech and MIT, who received a Marine Microbiology Initiative Investigator Award on Dec. 3.

The scientists will share up to $35 million in funding over five years to pursue pioneering research in the field of marine microbial ecology, including how the trillions of microscopic organisms at the base of the ocean’s food webs interact with each other and their environment. The funding will also provide new insights—and lead to new and exciting questions—about our basic understanding of ocean ecosystems and pressing issues like climate change.

Kay Bidle Moore Foundation Award

Kay Bidle

“Too often, the most innovative scientists are hampered by funding that binds them to a solid, but conservative research agenda,” explained Bruce Alberts, a Gordon and Better Moore Foundation board member and editor-in-chief of Science magazine. “These awards give scientists in marine microbiology the freedom and flexibility to take more risks, forge unusual collaborations, and ultimately, make noteworthy, new discoveries.”

Bidle is ecstatic about the opportunities presented by this award. “This type of commitment by the Moore Foundation to pursue and investigate novel and creative ideas in marine microbiology is utterly unique and a wonderful way to stimulate progress in our field.”

“These MMI awards give us license to explore and think outside the box in order to obtain a deeper understanding of microbes interact with each other and their environment and thrive in the oceans," adds Bidle, who is also a faculty member in the Environmental Biophysics and Molecular Ecology Group at the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS).

The Marine Microbiology Initiative investigators were selected through an open competition of an international pool of candidates and received strong consideration for their creativity, innovation and potential to make major, new breakthroughs.

“The Gordon and Betty Moore Award will be a wonderful addition to support the research at IMCS,” said Rich Lutz, IMCS director. “It adds to the further development of a rich and important research program conducted by Kay Bidle, who is viewed as a dynamic and innovative leader at the institute.”

Funding will go to individual scientists working on complementary aspects of marine microbial ecology and representing a variety of fields, including microbiology, oceanography, geochemistry, ecology, computational modeling and engineering.

Bidle plans to use the Moore Foundation funding to answer a variety of open, fundamental questions about the activity, diversity, and evolutionary development of innovative cellular, biochemical, and molecular strategies employed by marine microbes. “Marine microbes encompass more than 90 percent of oceanic biomass and their diversity and dynamic capabilities largely drive how the ocean works as a biogeochemical system,” adds Bidle.

About Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences
The Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences is a world-class oceanographic research institute dedicated to discovering and communicating exciting and critical science about our planet for the benefit of society. The institute’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of understanding the processes that govern change and sustainability in the world’s oceans to best use and protect our vital marine and coastal resources.

Media Contact: Paula Walcott-Quintin