2021 Banners GMSmith

2021 Banners GMSmith

Patrick Keeling, University of British Columbia, received the 2021 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal.

Keeling has established a broad evolutionary basis for investigating the molecular and evolutionary genomics of the diversity of the single-cell organisms known as protists.

As a botanist and leading expert in the development, implementation, and promotion of new approaches to assessing algal and protistan diversity, Keeling’s investigations have given insights into the role of endosymbiosis in algal evolution. By bringing together genomics, cell biology, and biodiversity, his work establishes new paths to expanding the global importance of evolutionary microbiology.

His areas of focus include the evolution of parasitism, endosymbiosis, horizontal gene transfer, the diversity of microbial populations in nature, and theory surrounding the origin of organelles in complex cells. His work on evolutionary transitions—from endosymbiont to organelle, and from free-living alga to intracellular parasite—has led to fundamental changes in our understanding of cellular interactions in evolutionary timescales. Nearly half of his 300 publications advance the science of freshwater and marine algae.

Keeling has also promoted and mentored the discipline, serving as Director of two major research networks in microbial diversity and evolution. 

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.


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