UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- James Greg Ferry, the Stanley Person Professor of Molecular Biology at Penn State University, has been selected as co-chairman of the National Academy of Science Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS). The purpose of CAPS is described as assisting the federal government "in integrating and planning programs in astrobiology and planetary science. The CAPS scope spans space-based and Earth-based planetary research, including astrobiology and planetary protection. CAPS provides an independent, authoritative forum for identifying and discussing issues in astrobiology and planetary science between the research community, the federal government and the interested public."
From 2009 to 2011, Ferry served as co-chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life. In addition, he has served as an associate editor and as a reviewer for the Journal of Bacteriology and on the editorial boards of Annals of Microbiology and several other journals. He has been the director of the Center for Microbial Structural Biology at Penn State since 1996 and is a member of the American Society for Microbiology and the Subcommittee on the Taxonomy of Methanogenic Bacteria of the International Committee on Systematic Bacteriology. He has served as a member of the NASA Mars Sample Workshop, the National Science Foundation's Young Investigator Awards Evaluation Panel and on the boards of many other scientific panels and committees. He has mentored more than 20 doctoral and master's students throughout his career at Penn State.
In 2011, Ferry was a recipient of the M. P. Bryant Memorial Award and, in 2001, he was honored with the Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award from the American Society for Microbiology. During his distinguished career, he has earned numerous other awards and honors, and he has been invited to present lectures and seminars at scientific symposia across the world. In 1995, he was honored with a NATO Visiting Professorship and named a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 1992. He is the author of two books: "Methanogenesis and Biochemistry" and "Physiology of Anaerobic Bacteria," and almost 200 scientific research papers.
Prior to joining the Penn State faculty in 1995, Ferry was a full professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He received a doctoral degree in microbiology and biochemistry from the University of Illinois in 1974 and a bachelor's degree in agronomy and soil microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1968. He earned an associate in applied science degree from Alfred State College in 1963.