Dr. Linda Kenney professor in the Department of Biochemestry & Molecular Biology

AAAS Honors UTMB’s Dr. Linda Kenney as Lifetime AAAS Fellow

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has elected Dr. Linda Kenney from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, considered one of the most distinct honors within the scientific community.

Kenney, a bacteriologist at UTMB, is a professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and is the Tom and Kaye Arnold Professor in Gastroenterology at UTMB.

The association elected Kenney for outstanding contributions to microbiology and biophysics, particularly to signal transduction in bacteria that controls gene expression at single cell and nanometer levels.

“It is always validating to be recognized for one’s work,” Kenney said. “We struggled with the challenges of applying biophysical approaches such as super-resolution imaging to bacteria because of their small size, and it is good to see those contributions are appreciated.”

Her laboratory studies Salmonella pathogenesis, its application as an oncolytic agent and two-component signaling systems in bacteria that control gene expression and pathogenesis.

“Bacteria are amazing in that they can sense environmental changes and then change the genes that they express,” Kenney said. “When we ingest infected food, Salmonella sense that they are no longer on the potato salad but in your gut.  Then they change the genes expressed to turn on an entire virulence program.”

The 2021 class of AAAS Fellows includes 564 scientists, engineers and innovators spanning 24 scientific disciplines who are being recognized for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements. 

“AAAS is proud to bestow the honor of AAAS Fellow to some of today’s brightest minds who are integral to forging our path into the future,” said Dr. Sudip Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “We celebrate these distinguished individuals for their invaluable contributions to the scientific enterprise.”

This tradition stretches back to 1874. AAAS Fellows are a distinguished cadre of scientists, engineers, and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines ranging from research, teaching, and technology, to administration in academia, industry, and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public.

UTMB recruited Kenney in 2019. Previously, she was a professor of Microbiology at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a visiting professor at the Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore.

“We appreciate the opportunity to upgrade our microscopes and other lab equipment through the generous start-up packages that we received from UTMB,” Kenney said.