International Science Group Honors Microbiologist Guy Lanza at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - Guy R. Lanza, microbiologist and head of the environmental sciences program at the University of Massachusetts, has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

Lanza was elected to the prestigious AAM for a career of "scientific excellence, originality, and leadership; high ethical standards; and scholarly and creative achievement," according to an ASM announcement of the honor made earlier this month. He will be recognized as a Fellow at the annual ASM meeting in Los Angeles in May.

Founded in 1899, the ASM is the world''s oldest and largest life-science organization. It has more than 43,000 members worldwide, with a total of 1,600 elected to the AAM in the history of the organization.

"This prestigious honor serves, once again, to underscore the quality of the science teaching and research conducted at the University," said Cora B. Marrett, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Lanza was named director of the environmental sciences program at the University of Massachusetts in 1995. He currently is involved in the development of interdisciplinary graduate programs combining expertise in environmental microbiology, toxicology, and policy, and he is working to coordinate a research group within the University to facilitate interdisciplinary bioremediation projects and toxicity assessment.

Commenting on Lanza''s appointment, Robert G. Helgesen, dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources (CFNR), said: "This significant recognition of Guy Lanza''s contributions, not only to his field but to the environmental sciences program, is another example of the fine reputation of UMass and CFNR in the academic community."

Lanza s career spans more than 30 years in a variety of research settings, all related to microbiology and the environment. He began his career developing screening systems for antimicrobial drugs at the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research in New Jersey. At the height of the Vietnam War, Lanza spent two years in Thailand, where he conducted benchmark studies on microbial communities within the Mekong River ecosystem for the Smithsonian Institution. The results of his studies were widely used and frequently are cited by scientists researching that watershed today.

In 1973, Lanza joined the aquatic ecology program at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at New York University, where his research team defined the thermal and chemical effects of power plant operations on microbial communities. From there, he went to the University of Texas at Dallas, where he developed an environmental microbiology academic program, and studied the bioremediation of different soils contaminated by toxic organic pollutants. He also developed several novel microbial toxicity assays at UT, and those assays are still used to monitor microbial community activity in contaminated soils and groundwater at so-called "Superfund" sites.

Author of numerous refereed journal articles, book chapters and reports on environmental microbiology and ecotoxicology, Lanza is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Phytoremediation, a new, peer-reviewed journal of research related to novel "green" technologies developed to repair and restore contaminated environments. He recently was appointed as a bioremediation consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency s Science Advisory Board.

Lanza has served as a water quality consultant to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, and as an expert witness to the U.S. Department of Justice, Division of National Resources and Environment. He is a technical advisor on waterborne diseases and water quality for the International Rivers Network in Berkeley, Calif., as well as for several hydroelectric dam projects in Southeast Asia and Africa. Still interested in the environment of Southeast Asia, Lanza is working with the International Programs Office at UMass to establish collaborative research and education programs with universities in the region.

Other Academy members from UMass are Derek Lovley, head of the microbiology department; Ronald G. Labbe, food science; Ercole Canale-Parola, professor emeritus of microbiology; and Samuel F. Conti, retired vice chancellor for research and former microbiology faculty.