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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Alumni & Development

BioNews: Winter 2013-14

Fuqua leads Biology

Clay Fuqua

Biology’s new chair, Clay Fuqua, was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. Photo: Zach Hetrick/Indiana University

Professor Clay Fuqua was named chair of the Department of Biology last year, effective July 1. Professor Roger Innes, a plant molecular biologist, held the position for four years prior to Fuqua's appointment. Innes literally and figuratively passed the ‘chair's baton' over to Fuqua at the last faculty meeting of the spring semester, stating that he was, "extremely pleased to be passing it on to someone with such outstanding leadership and administrative skills, which were ably demonstrated during Clay's four years as head of the department's NIH Training Grant in Genetics, Cellular, and Molecular Sciences and three years as Associate Chair for Research."

In accepting the appointment, Fuqua stated, "Roger has provided tremendous leadership for the Biology Department, particularly during what have clearly been extraordinarily challenging times caused by educational and research budget cuts across the country. Roger deserves great credit and thanks from the IU biology community for his many efforts over these years. My goal is to foster the initiatives that Roger and other departmental leaders have started, as well as to develop new educational and research themes that will help the biology department emerge stronger and more forward-looking than ever. Given the great history of the department; our top-notch facilities; and our amazing human assets of faculty, staff, students, and alumni, I am confident that the horizon will continue to be bright for IU biology."

Fuqua joined the IU faculty in 1999, coming here from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he was an assistant professor. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology at Cornell University. Fuqua earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1991, and his B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Here at IU, Fuqua advanced from assistant to associate professor in 2005 and then to full professor in 2008. He has been a project leader for the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics since 2006 and directed our Microbiology Program for three years. Fuqua directed the department's National Institutes of Health Training Grant in Genetics, Cellular, and Molecular Sciences for four years and was our associate chair for research and facilities from 2009−12. In the latter capacity, he was a key player along with Innes in two separate large renovation projects; (1) in 2010, a $2 million renovation of teaching laboratories in Jordan Hall, funded by the College of Arts and Sciences, to create state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and (2) an approximately $10.5 million renovation of both teaching and research space in Jordan Hall—including greenhouses, lecture halls, teaching laboratories, and research labs—funded by the state of Indiana and Indiana University, primarily through the College of Arts and Sciences.

Fuqua's research interests broadly focus on the mechanisms and consequences of microbial interactions, including pathogenesis and symbiosis. His seminal contributions to many fields of microbiology—including quorum sensing, plant-bacterial interactions, exopolysaccharide synthesis, biofilm formation, and microbial community structure—led to Fuqua being elected a 2014 Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last year. Fuqua's other honors include receiving the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology's Outstanding Researcher Award, appointment as the American Society for Microbiology Waksman Foundation Lecturer from 2005−07, receipt of IU's Trustees Teaching Award in 2005, and the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 2003. The award with perhaps the most sentimental meaning, however, is the department's Senior Class Award for Teaching Excellence in Biology and Dedication to Undergraduates that Fuqua received in 2004.

Fuqua is married to Amy Berndtson, a senior lecturer in our department who teaches the first-year L112 Biological Mechanisms course, Z469 Endocrinology Laboratory, and a non-majors course in human pregnancy and fetal health. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and did postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Maryland's Center of Marine Biotechnology and at Cornell University. Berndtson's research interests and experience focus on the hormonal regulation of reproduction.

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