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In tribute to the character and accomplishments of Nat Sternberg, a thesis prize has been established in his name. Its purpose is to encourage young scientists who give early evidence of perpetuating the salient qualities that were Nat Sternberg's skill, insightfulness, rigorousness, and dedication to science.

The Nat Sternberg Thesis Prize is a cash award given each year to a student for the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in the field of prokaryotic molecular genetics. The award will be presented at the annual Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages meeting, at which time the recipient will give a seminar about his or her work. The amount of the award will be at least $1500, with the exact amount to be determined by the award committee and the fund manager. The award will provide a travel allowance over and above the $1500 prize. A brief introduction of the year's winner and the nature of the prize will be presented at the meeting by the Award Committee Chair or a designate. The 2004 meeting will be held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Information about the meeting is available here.

ELIGIBILITY. The nominee must have completed and successfully defended his or her Ph.D. thesis within a 12-month period prior to June 1 of the year of the award. The nominee should be willing to report on the thesis work at the annual Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages meeting.

SUBMISSION OF NOMINATIONS.Nominations must come from the thesis advisor or a member of the thesis examination committee.Nominators should send the candidate's curriculum vitae together with a copy of the thesis abstract that indicates the significance of the work to the field. Include reprints or preprints of articles based on the thesis material and three letters of reference, one of which must be from the thesis advisor.These items should be packaged together and SIX copies sent to the member of the Award Committee whose areas of interest most closely correspond to the topic of the thesis (see below).Nominations must be received by June 1 (PREFERABLY SOONER).

Members of the Award Committee and their r</b><b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">esearch interests:

Dr. Robert A. Weisberg, Chair (2004)
Transcription, recombination, and bacteriophage biology
Bldg. 6B, Rm. 308
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892-2785
FAX301 496 0243

Dr. Tania Baker (2004)
Transposition,DNA replication, protein folding and degradation
Dept. of Biology, MIT
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Dr. C. Michael Cashel (2006)
Bacterial growth and stationary phase physiology;nucleotide metabolism, transcription, translation
Bldg. 6B, Rm. 3B314
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892-2785
TEL 301-496-0619
FAX 301-496-0243

Dr. Victor de Lorenzo (2006)
Gene expression; Regulation of catabolic pathways; Metals in prokaryotic systems; Molecular microbiology of Pseudomonas; Biodegradation of xenobiotic compounds
Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia,CSIC
Campus de Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid
TEL+34 (91) 585 4536
FAX+34 (91) 585 4506

Dr. Virginia Miller (2005)
Host-Microbe interactions
Department of Pediatrics
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S. Euclid Ave.
Campus Box 8208
St. Louis, MO 63110
TEL(314) 286 2891
FAX(314) 286 2896

Dr. Ryland Young (2005)
Bacteriophage biology; Cell lysis
Dept Biochemistry & Biophysics
2128 TAMU
Texas A. & M. University
College Station, TX77843-2128
TEL(979) 845 2087
FAX(979) 862 4718

CALL FOR DONATIONS. Individual and corporate donations to the Nat L. Sternberg Thesis Prize endowment fund are welcome and may be made by contacting G. Morgan Browne, Chief Financial Officer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Road, P.O. Box 100, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724-2213; telephone number: 516-367-8300.

We acknowledge the generosity of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in administering the endowment fund, of  DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company for supplying the initial seed money, and of the many private individuals who have provided additional support.


2003. The prize was shared between Benjamin Alba, Ph.D., University of California at San Francisco; Thesis advisor, Carol Gross; Thesis title:Control of the Sigma E-dependent extracytoplasmic stress response by regulated proteolysis, and Rut Carballido-Lòpez, Ph.D. University of Oxford; Thesis Advisor, Jeff Errington; Thesis title:Bacterial cytoskeleton: Cell shape determination in Bacillus subtilis

2002.  Thomas Bernhardt, Ph.D., Texas A&M University; Thesis advisor, Ryland Young; Thesis title:  Breaking Free:  Small Phages Inhibit Murein Synthesis to Lyse Their Host.

2001.  Maria Lara-Tejero, Ph.D. Yale University, Thesis advisor, Jorge Galan; Thesis title:  Molecular and Functional Characterization of the Campylobacter jejuni cytolethal distending toxin.

2000.Deborah M. Anderson, Ph.D. UCLA; Thesis advisor: Olaf Schneewind; Thesis title: Recognition of type III secretion substrates in Yersinia enterocolitica

1999.Jessica M. Jones, Ph.D. Georgetown University; Thesis advisor, Hiroshi Nakai; Thesis title: Transpososome to replisome: The role of the Escherichia coli PriA protein in bacteriophage mu replication by transposition.

1998.Robert B. Tracy, Ph.D.University of California, Davis; Thesis advisor, Stephen Kowalczykowski; Thesis title: Biochemical investigation of the preferential binding and homologous pairing of GT-rich sequences by the Escherichia coli RecA protein and the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rad51 protein.

1997.Barbara A. Bensing, Ph.D. University of Minnesota; Thesis advisor, Gary M. Dunny; Thesis title: Activation of pheromone-inducible plasmid transfer functions in Enterococcus faecalis: Interaction of a regulatory RNA with components of the ribosome.

1996.The prize was shared between Leonard Duncan, Ph.D. Harvard University; Thesis advisor, Richard Losick; Thesis title: Cell-specific activation of transcription factor sF in sporulating Bacillus subtilis, and Jin-Ying Yang, Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin; Thesis advisor, Rasika M. Harshey; Thesis title: Active site assembly during Mu transposition.


Nat Sternberg belonged to that rare breed of scientists whose understanding of biology is at once wide-ranging and profound. Throughout a career that began in phage biology, Nat kept adding to his activities and interests without relinquishing the earlier ones, often creating remarkable amalgams of old and new.Starting his studies with T4, he went on to l and then took up the challenge of P1 phage, largely unexplored at that time.Nat proceeded to illuminate nearly every conceivable aspect of P1s alternative ways of life: immunity, site-specific recombination, plasmid and lytic replication, partitioning, DNA methylation, packaging, transducing particle generation, among others.When Nat became interested in difficult and fundamental problems in eukaryotic biology, he created elegant ways to use a variety of microbiological systems for their resolution.Among the sophisticated tools that Nat devised, his P1 cloning system for large genomic DNA fragments is remarkable for the number and ingenuity of its features that were pioneered by Nat himself at various stages of his career.

Several eukaryotic topics engaged Nat’s attention, including recombination, genome mapping, and cancer biology.Characteristically, his last publication, an insightful study of the cellular toxicity of tumoricidal intercalating drugs, is based on simple tests with E. coli. The topic had particular significance for Nat, who engaged in a long and debilitating battle with cancer. Nat's love of science was a sustaining force throughout that struggle.Nat Sternberg died September 26, l995. 

Nat was a scientist's scientist, possessed of extraordinary energy, creativity, wit, and, above all, generosity of spirit.In honor of these qualities and of the person in whom they were combined, former associates of Nat, Lynn Enquist and Thomas Silhavy, conceived of the Nat L. Sternberg Thesis Prize.The annual prize was first offered in 1996.