Header Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal

Header Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal

About the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal

The Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal recognizes excellence in published research on marine or freshwater algae. The award is presented every three years and consists of a gold-plated bronze medal and a $50,000 prize. The Smith Medal was established in March 1968 at the bequest of Helen P. Smith in memory of her husband, Gilbert Morgan Smith. Smith was a renowned botanist, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the first President of the Phycological Society of America. 

Most Recent Recipient

Takao Kondo, Designated Professor and Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Science at Nagoya University received the 2015 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal. 

Kondo and his colleagues created a way to study the cyanobacterium circadian clock by genetically engineering Synechococcus elongatus to glow through bioluminescence. The glow, they found, oscillated robustly in the circadian period (about 24 hours) even under constant conditions. Kondo then developed a computer-based system that allowed him to monitor the rhythms of thousands of those glowing cyanobacteria, which helped him find three genes — kaiA, kaiB and kaiC — that control this circadian system. Kondo then demonstrated how this simple timepiece works by mixing the three Kai proteins and ATP in a test tube to reconstitute the circadian clock. In later studies, Kondo and colleagues showed that these proteins can keep time by using a tiny amount of ATP. This body of knowledge has led to a transformation in how scientists think about the biological clock as well as the ecology of these organisms. Read more about Kondo's work»


Takao Kondo (2015)
For demonstrating the occurrence of circadian clocks in prokaryotes, leading through genetic dissection to the discovery of the central bacterial clock genes, kaiABC, and to a new way of thinking about algal ecology.
Read more about Kondo's work»

 John B. Waterbury (2012)
For the discovery and characterization of planktonic marine cyanobacteria, and viruses that infect them, setting in motion a paradigm shift in our understanding of ocean productivity, ecology, and biogeochemical cycles.

Arthur R. Grossman (2009)
For pioneering creative and comprehensive research on algae and cyanobacteria, elucidating molecular mechanisms by which they adapt to changes in light color and to nutrient stress.

Sabeeha Merchant (2006)
For her pioneering discoveries in the assembly of metalloenzymes and the regulated biogenesis of major complexes of the photosynthetic apparatus in green algae.

Sarah P. Gibbs (2003)
For her revolutionary concepts and evidence that constitute the foundation for the current theory of chloroplast evolution and the phylogenetic relationships of algae and plants.

Shirley W. Jeffrey (2000)
For her discovery and characterization of major algal pigments, their quantitative application in oceanography, and for providing phytoplankton cultures for international research.

Isabella A. Abbott (1997)
For her comprehensive investigations of the biogeography and systematics of marine algae in the eastern and central Pacific, with emphasis on Rhodophyta, the red algae.

Elisabeth Gantt (1994)
For her pioneering work in elucidating the supramolecular structure of the light-harvesting complexes and energy transfer in the photosynthetic apparatus of red and blue-green algae.

Jean-David Rochaix (1991)
For his elegant, inventive studies in Chlamydomonas using genetics along with cell and molecular biology to elucidate molecular mechanisms of chloroplast biogenesis, photosynthesis, and nuclear-chloroplast interactions.

Ruth Sager (1988)
For her key role in the developing our understanding of genetic systems in organelles though her studies of chloroplast inheritance in the green alga Chlamydomonas

Richard C. Starr (1985)
For his important work, which elucidated the sexuality of desmids and green algae. This was the first time the details of meiosis had been set forth for these groups.

Luigi Provasoli (1982)
For his excellence in phycology, especially for his work on the culture and nutrition of algae, and the influence of bacteria and organic substances on the morphology of larger algae.

William R. Taylor (1979)
For his outstanding contributions to the knowledge of the marine algae of Florida, the Caribbean Sea, the Northwestern Atlantic, and the tropical Pacific Oceans.


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