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Postle Elected Fellow of American Academy of Microbiology

19 May 2008
Kathleen Postle.

Kathleen Postle, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State, has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology. The academy's fellows are elected through a highly selective, annual, peer-reviewed process based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions to the field of microbiology. There are now over 2,500 fellows representing all subspecialties of microbiology, including basic and applied research, teaching, public health, industry, and government service.

Postle uses the bacterium Escherichia coli as a model system to learn how signals are transduced between the two concentric membranes surrounding Gram-negative bacteria, many species of which cause diseases. She studies the mechanism by which a protein called TonB delivers energy to transporters in the bacteria's outer membranes, triggering delivery of essential iron to the host organisms. Understanding this mechanism may lead to development of new, effective treatments for the diseases these bacteria cause. During a bacterial infection, Gram-negative bacteria can feed on iron in the human body, but if they are unable to get iron, they cannot grow or reproduce.

"The TonB system presents an attractive target for development of novel antibiotics that could interfere with bacterial iron nutrition," said Postle. "Understanding the molecular mechanism of TonB-dependent energy transduction also will provide unique and important insights into the signal-transduction processes, in general."

Postle has delivered many invited research talks, including three addresses at national meetings of the American Society of Microbiology, and has presented papers or posters at a number of other conferences. She also has published many scientific papers about her research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Postle served on grant-review panels for the NSF from 1990 to 1997 and for the NIH from 1998 to 2001. She has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Bacteriology since 1998. In 1991, the NSF honored Postle with a Career Advancement Award for Women. She also was awarded an American Society for Microbiology Foundation Lectureship award from 1991 to 1992.

Postle was a professor in the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University from 1994 to 2005 before joining Penn State in 2005. She was an associate professor at Washington State University from 1986 to 1994 and an assistant research professor at the University of California at Irvine from 1982 to 1986. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Washington and the University of California at Irvine and received her doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Postle received her bachelor's degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 1972, where she was recognized as an Outstanding Senior Chemistry Major.