Jo Handelsman

Credentials: November 8, 2013

Dr. Jo Handelsman is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Frederick Phineas Rose Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. Dr. Jo Handelsman is well-known for her discoveries about microbial communities and the small molecules that influence their behavior. She was one of the pioneers of the field of metagenomics, a term she coined. This approach has revolutionized understanding of microbial communities.

In addition to her microbiology research program, Handelsman is also known internationally for her efforts to improve science education and increase the participation of women and minorities in science at the university level. She co-founded the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at UW-Madison, which designed and evaluated interventions intended to enhance the participation of women in science, and founded The Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale, which provides local and national leadership in transforming classroom teaching in science and engineering. Her leadership in education and women in science led to her appointment as the first President of the Rosalind Franklin Society, her service on the National Academies’ panel that wrote the 2006 report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering,” appointment as co-Director of the National Academies Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology, and her role as co-chair of a working group that produced the report to President Obama, “Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”

Most recently, Dr. Handelsman was nominated by President Obama for the position of Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and awaits Senate confirmation. Read more here.

Handelsman has co-authored over 100 scientific papers, 30 editorials, and three books about teaching: Entering Mentoring, Scientific Teaching, and Biology Brought to Life. She co-edits the series, Controversies in Science and Technology. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology, Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the AAAS; and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. She will serve as president of American Society for Microbiology 2013-14; has received numerous awards in recognition of her mentoring, teaching, and research contributions; and in 2009, Seed Magazine named her “A Revolutionary Mind” in recognition of her unorthodox ideas. In 2011, she was one of 11 individuals selected by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, and in 2012, Nature named her one of “ten people who mattered this year” for her research on gender bias in science.

Public Lecture

  • “The National Transformation of Science Education”

Luncheon for Graduate Students

  • “Career Development Advice for Women Students”

Fundraising Dinner With Dr. Handelsman