SCOPE Investigator Penny Chisholm Wins Killian Award

Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology (SCOPE) Investigator Sallie ‘Penny’ Chisholm won the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2014 Killian Award on May 21. The Killian Award is MIT’s highest honor for full-time faculty members and was awarded to Chisholm for her outstanding professional accomplishments.


The Killian Award was established in 1971 to recognize annually extraordinary professional achievements by MIT faculty members and to spread awareness of the recipient’s work to members of the MIT community and beyond.

“I was thrilled to receive the Killian Award. The respect of my MIT colleagues means everything to me,” says Chisholm.

For more than 30 years, Chisholm’s research has focused on Prochlorococcus, an ocean microorganism essential to healthy ecosystem functioning. A main goal of her work is to enhance understanding of energy and carbon flow in global oceans. A deeper understanding of Prochlorococcus — from its genome to its role in the ecosystem — can aid in understanding these larger oceanic systems.

“It is exciting that, in recognizing my accomplishments, the selection committee was also recognizing the significance of Prochlorococcus,” says Chisholm. “This tiny cell has a huge role to play on our planet, and yet it does not get much visibility.”

Chisholm is one of eight founding Investigators of the Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology, which aims to advance understanding of the biology, ecology and biogeochemistry of microbial processes that dominate the global ocean.