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Carl Richard Woese (; July 15, 1928 – December 30, 2012) was an American
microbiologist A microbiologist (from Greek ) is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In classical antiquity, there was no real ancient ana ...

microbiologist
and
biophysicist uses protein domain dynamics on nanoscales to walk along a microtubule Microtubules are polymers of tubulin that form part of the cytoskeleton and provide structure and shape to Eukaryote, eukaryotic cells. Microtubules can grow as long as 50&n ...
. Woese is famous for defining the
Archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) constitute a domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a pa ...

Archaea
(a new
domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a partial function **Domain of holomorphy of a function *Doma ...
of life) in 1977 by
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, ...

phylogenetic
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
of 16S ribosomal RNA, a technique he pioneered that revolutionized microbiology. He also originated the
RNA world hypothesis The RNA world is a hypothetical stage in the evolutionary history of life The history of life on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is la ...
in 1967, although not by that name. Woese held the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair and was professor of microbiology at the
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I, Illinois, or colloquially the University of Illinois or UIUC) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. ...
.


Life and education

Carl Woese was born in Syracuse, New York on July 15, 1928. Woese attended
Deerfield Academy Deerfield Academy is an elite coeducational preparatory school in Deerfield, Massachusetts Deerfield is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria ...
in
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * T ...

Massachusetts
. He received a bachelor's degree in
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no general consensus abo ...
and
physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ...

physics
from
Amherst College Amherst College ( ) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
in 1950. During his time at Amherst, Woese took only one biology course (
Biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of es within and relating to living s. A sub-discipline of both and , biochemistry may be divided into three fields: , and . Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has beco ...

Biochemistry
, in his senior year) and had "no scientific interest in plants and animals" until advised by William M. Fairbank, then an assistant professor of physics at Amherst, to pursue
biophysics uses protein domain dynamics on nanoscale Image:Protein translation.gif, 300px, A ribosome is a biological machine that utilizes nanoscale protein dynamics The nanoscopic scale (or nanoscale) usually refers to structures with a length scale ...
at
Yale Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
. In 1953, he completed a
Ph.D. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...
in
biophysics uses protein domain dynamics on nanoscale Image:Protein translation.gif, 300px, A ribosome is a biological machine that utilizes nanoscale protein dynamics The nanoscopic scale (or nanoscale) usually refers to structures with a length scale ...
at
Yale University Yale University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two d ...
, where his doctoral research focused on the inactivation of
virus A virus is a that only inside the living of an . Viruses infect all , from animals and plants to s, including and . Since 's 1892 article describing a non-bacterial infecting tobacco plants and the discovery of the by in 1898, more ...

virus
es by heat and
ionizing radiation Ionizing radiation (or ionising radiation), including nuclear radiation, consists of s or s that have sufficient to s or s by detaching s from them. The particles generally travel at a speed that is greater than 1% of , and the electromagnetic w ...
. He studied medicine at the
University of Rochester The University of Rochester (U of R, UR, or U of Rochester) is a in . The university grants and s, including and s. The University of Rochester enrolls approximately 6,800 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students. Its 158 buildings hous ...
for two years, quitting two days into a
pediatrics Paediatrics (American and British English differences, also spelled pediatrics or pædiatrics) is the branch of medicine that involves the medical care of infants, children, and Adolescence, adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recom ...

pediatrics
rotation. Then he became a postdoctoral researcher in biophysics at Yale University investigating bacterial spores. From 1960–63, he worked as a biophysicist at the
General Electric Research Laboratory General Electric Research Laboratory was the first industrial research facility in the United States. Established in 1900, the lab was home to the early technological breakthroughs of General Electric General Electric Company (GE) is an Americ ...
in
Schenectady, New York Schenectady () is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be de ...
. In 1964, Woese joined the microbiology faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he focused on Archaea, genomics, and molecular evolution as his areas of expertise. He became a professor at the
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I, Illinois, or colloquially the University of Illinois or UIUC) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. ...
's Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, which was renamed in his honor in 2015, after his death. Woese died on December 30, 2012, following complications from
pancreatic cancer Pancreatic cancer arises when cells Cell most often refers to: * Cell (biology), the functional basic unit of life Cell may also refer to: Closed spaces * Monastic cell, a small room, hut, or cave in which a monk or religious recluse lives ...

pancreatic cancer
, leaving as survivors his wife Gabriella and two sons.


Work and discoveries


Early work on the genetic code

Woese turned his attention to the
genetic code The genetic code is the set of rules used by living cell (biology), cells to Translation (biology), translate information encoded within genetic material (DNA or Messenger RNA, mRNA sequences of nucleotide triplets, or codons) into proteins. Tran ...

genetic code
while setting up his lab at
General Electric General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Mult ...
's Knolls Laboratory in the fall of 1960. Interest among physicists and molecular biologists had begun to coalesce around deciphering the correspondence between the twenty
amino acids Amino acids are organic compounds that contain amino (–NH2) and Carboxylic acid, carboxyl (–COOH) functional groups, along with a Substituent, side chain (R group) specific to each amino acid. The key Chemical element, elements of an amino ...

amino acids
and the four letter alphabet of nucleic acid bases in the decade following James D. Watson,
Francis Crick Francis Harry Compton Crick (8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004) was a British molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientist A neuroscientist (or neurobiologist) is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scie ...

Francis Crick
, and
Rosalind Franklin Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 192016 April 1958) was an English chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classica ...

Rosalind Franklin
's discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953. Woese published a series of papers on the topic. In one, he deduced a correspondence table between what was then known as "soluble RNA" and DNA based upon their respective
base pair A base pair (bp) is a fundamental unit of double-stranded nucleic acids Nucleic acids are biopolymer Biopolymers are natural polymers produced by the cells of Organism, living organisms. Biopolymers consist of monomeric units that are Covalent_ ...
ratios. He then re-evaluated experimental data associated with the hypothesis that viruses used one base, rather than a triplet, to encode each amino acid, and suggested 18 codons, correctly predicting one for
proline Proline (symbol Pro or P) is an organic acid classed as a proteinogenic amino acid Proteinogenic amino acids are amino acids that are incorporated biosynthetically into proteins during translation (biology), translation. The word "proteinogenic ...

proline
. Other work established the mechanistic basis of protein translation, but in Woese's view, largely overlooked the genetic code's evolutionary origins as an afterthought. In 1962 Woese spent several months as a visiting researcher at the
Pasteur Institute The Pasteur Institute (french: Institut Pasteur) is a French non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for ...
in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
, a locus of intense activity on the molecular biology of gene expression and gene regulation. While in Paris, he met
Sol Spiegelman Sol Spiegelman (December 14, 1914 – January 21, 1983) was an American molecular biologist. He developed the technique of nucleic acid hybridization, which helped to lay the groundwork for advances in recombinant DNA Image:recombinant formation ...

Sol Spiegelman
, who invited Woese to visit the
University of Illinois The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I, Illinois, or colloquially the University of Illinois or UIUC) is a public university, public land-grant university, land-grant research university in Illinois in the twin cities of Champaign ...
after hearing his research goals; at this visit Spiegelman offered Woese a position with immediate
tenure Tenure is a category of academic appointment existing in some countries. A tenured post is an indefinite academic appointment that can be terminated only for cause or under extraordinary circumstances, such as financial exigency or program discon ...

tenure
beginning in the fall of 1964. With the freedom to patiently pursue more speculative threads of inquiry outside the mainstream of biological research, Woese began to consider the genetic code in evolutionary terms, asking how the codon assignments and their translation into an amino acid sequence might have evolved.


Discovery of the third domain

For much of the 20th century, prokaryotes were regarded as a single group of organisms and classified based on their
biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of es within and relating to living s. A sub-discipline of both and , biochemistry may be divided into three fields: , and . Over the last decades of the 20th century, biochemistry has beco ...

biochemistry
,
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
and
metabolism Metabolism (, from el, μεταβολή ''metabolē'', "change") is the set of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining ...

metabolism
. In a highly influential 1962 paper,
Roger Stanier Roger Yate Stanier (22 October 1916 – 29 January 1982) was a Canadian microbiologist who was influential in the development of modern microbiology. As a member of the Delft School and former student of C. B. van Niel, he made important contrib ...
and
C. B. van Niel Cornelis Bernardus van Niel (November 4, 1897, Haarlem Haarlem (; predecessor of ''Harlem'' in English) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. a ...
first established the division of cellular organization into
prokaryote A prokaryote () is a single-celled organism A unicellular organism, also known as a single-celled organism, is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contig ...
s and
eukaryote Eukaryotes () are organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interact ...

eukaryote
s, defining prokaryotes as those organisms lacking a
cell nucleus In cell biology, the nucleus (pl. ''nuclei''; from Latin or , meaning ''kernel'' or ''seed'') is a biological membrane#Function, membrane-bound organelle found in eukaryote, eukaryotic cell (biology), cells. Eukaryotes usually have a single n ...

cell nucleus
. Adapted from
Édouard Chatton Édouard Chatton (; 11 October 1883 – 23 April 1947) was a French biologist who first characterized the distinction between the prokaryotic and eukaryotic cellular types. Chatton coined the terms and published them first in his 1937 paper "Pa ...
's generalization, Stanier and Van Niel's concept was quickly accepted as the most important distinction among organisms; yet they were nevertheless skeptical of microbiologists' attempts to construct a natural
phylogenetic In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, ...

phylogenetic
classification of bacteria. However, it became generally assumed that all life shared a common prokaryotic (implied by the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
root πρό (pro-), before, in front of) ancestor. In 1977, Carl Woese and George E. Fox experimentally disproved this universally held hypothesis about the basic structure of the
tree of life#REDIRECT Tree of life The tree of life is a fundamental widespread mytheme or archetype in many of the world's mythology, mythologies, religion, religious and philosophy, philosophical traditions. It is closely related to the concept of the s ...
. Woese and Fox discovered a kind of microbial life which they called the “archaebacteria” (
Archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) constitute a domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a pa ...

Archaea
). They reported that the archaebacteria comprised "a third kingdom" of life as distinct from bacteria as plants and animals. Having defined Archaea as a new "urkingdom" (later
domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a partial function **Domain of holomorphy of a function *Doma ...
) which were neither bacteria nor eukaryotes, Woese redrew the
taxonomic Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
tree. His
three-domain system The three-domain system is a biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, ...
, based on phylogenetic relationships rather than obvious morphological similarities, divided life into 23 main divisions, incorporated within three domains:
Bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

Bacteria
,
Archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) constitute a domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a pa ...

Archaea
, and . Acceptance of the validity of Woese's phylogenetically valid classification was a slow process. Prominent biologists including
Salvador Luria Salvador Edward Luria (August 13, 1912 – February 6, 1991) was an Italian microbiologist A microbiologist (from Greek ) is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in a ...
and
Ernst Mayr Ernst Walter Mayr (; 5 July 1904 – 3 February 2005) was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists File:Francesco Redi.jpg, Francesco Redi, the founder of biology, is recognized to be one of the greatest biologists of all ti ...
objected to his division of the prokaryotes. Not all criticism of him was restricted to the scientific level. A decade of labor-intensive oligonucleotide cataloging left him with a reputation as "a crank," and Woese would go on to be dubbed as "Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary" by a news article printed in the journal ''
Science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...
''. The growing body of supporting data led the
scientific community The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterize ...
to accept the Archaea by the mid-1980s. Today, few scientists cling to the idea of a unified Prokarya. Woese's work on Archaea is also significant in its implications for the search for life on other planets. Before the discovery by Woese and Fox, scientists thought that Archaea were extreme organisms that evolved from the microorganisms more familiar to us. Now, most believe they are ancient, and may have robust evolutionary connections to the first organisms on Earth. Organisms similar to those archaea that exist in extreme environments may have developed on other planets, some of which harbor conditions conducive to
extremophile An extremophile (from Latin ' meaning "extreme" and Greek ' () meaning "love") is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the ...
life. Notably, Woese's elucidation of the
tree of life#REDIRECT Tree of life The tree of life is a fundamental widespread mytheme or archetype in many of the world's mythology, mythologies, religion, religious and philosophy, philosophical traditions. It is closely related to the concept of the s ...
shows the overwhelming diversity of microbial lineages: single-celled organisms represent the vast majority of the biosphere's genetic, metabolic, and ecologic niche diversity. As microbes are crucial for many
biogeochemical Biogeochemistry is the Branches of science, scientific discipline that involves the study of the chemistry, chemical, physics, physical, geology, geological, and biology, biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural ...
cycles and to the continued function of the biosphere, Woese's efforts to clarify the evolution and diversity of microbes provided an invaluable service to
ecologists This is a list of notable ecologists. A-D * John Aber (United States) * Aziz Ab'Saber (Brazil) * Charles Christopher Adams (United States) * Warder Clyde Allee (USA) * H. G. Andrewartha, Herbert G. Andrewartha (Australia) * Sarah Martha Baker ( ...
and
conservationists The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental, and social movement that seeks to manage and protect natural resource , Malaysia is an example of undisturbed natural resource. Waterfalls provide sp ...
. It was a major contribution to the theory of
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
and to our knowledge of the history of life.


Evolution of primary cell types

Woese also speculated about an era of rapid evolution in which considerable
horizontal gene transfer Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) or lateral gene transfer (LGT) is the movement of genetic material between unicellular A unicellular organism, also known as a single-celled organism, is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient G ...
occurred between organisms. First described by Woese and Fox in a 1977 paper and explored further with microbiologist Jane Gibson in a 1980 paper, these organisms, or ''progenotes'', were imagined as protocells with very low complexity due to their error-prone translation apparatus ("noisy genetic transmission channel"), which produced high mutation rates that limited the specificity of cellular interaction and the size of the genome. This early translation apparatus would have produced a group of structurally similar, functionally equivalent proteins, rather than a single protein. Furthermore, because of this reduced specificity, all cellular components were susceptible to horizontal gene transfer, and rapid evolution occurred at the level of the ecosystem. The transition to modern cells (the "
Darwinian ThresholdDarwinian threshold or Darwinian transition is a term introduced by Carl Woese to describe a transition period during the evolution of the first Cell (biology), cells when Transmission (genetics), genetic transmission moves from a predominantly horiz ...

Darwinian Threshold
") occurred when organisms evolved translation mechanisms with modern levels of fidelity: improved performance allowed cellular organization to reach a level of complexity and connectedness that made genes from other organisms much less able to displace an individual's own genes. In later years, Woese's work concentrated on genomic analysis to elucidate the significance of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) for evolution. He worked on detailed analyses of the phylogenies of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and on the effect of horizontal gene transfer on the distribution of those key enzymes among organisms. The goal of the research was to explain how the primary cell types (the archaeal, eubacterial, and eukaryotic) evolved from an ancestral state in the
RNA world The RNA world is a hypothetical stage in the evolutionary history of life The history of life on Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surfa ...
.


Perspectives on biology

Woese shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of biology in ''
Current Biology ''Current Biology'' is a biweekly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a ...
'':
The "important questions" that 21st century biology faces all stem from a single question, the nature and generation of
biological organization Biology is the natural science that studies life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because ...
. . . . Yes, Darwin is back, but in the company of . . . scientists who can see much further into the depths of biology than was possible heretofore. It is no longer a "10,000 species of birds" view of evolution—evolution seen as a procession of forms. The concern is now with the process of evolution itself.
I see the question of biological organization taking two prominent directions today. The first is the evolution of (proteinaceous) cellular organization, which includes sub-questions such as the evolution of the translation apparatus and the genetic code, and the origin and nature of the hierarchies of control that fine-tune and precisely interrelate the panoply of cellular processes that constitute cells. It also includes the question of the number of different basic cell types that exist on earth today: did all modern cells come from a single ancestral cellular organization?
The second major direction involves the nature of the global ecosystem. . . . Bacteria are the major organisms on this planet—in numbers, in total mass, in importance to the global balances. Thus, it is
microbial ecology Microbial ecology (or environmental microbiology) is the ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their ...
that . . . is most in need of development, both in terms of facts needed to understand it, and in terms of the framework in which to interpret them.
Woese considered biology to have an "all-important" role in society. In his view, biology should serve a broader purpose than the pursuit of "an engineered environment":
What was formally recognized in physics needs now to be recognized in biology: science serves a dual function. On the one hand it is society's servant, attacking the applied problems posed by society. On the other hand, it functions as society's teacher, helping the latter to understand its world and itself. It is the latter function that is effectively missing today.


Honors and scientific legacy

Woese was a
MacArthur Fellow The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly but unofficially known as the "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the MacArthur Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation typically to be ...
in 1984, was made a member of the
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
in 1988, received the
Leeuwenhoek Medal The Leeuwenhoek Medal, established in 1877 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences ( nl, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, abbreviated: KNAW) is an organization ...
(microbiology's highest honor) in 1992, the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology in 1995 from the
National Academy of Sciences The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a United States nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
, and was a
National Medal of Science The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Fed ...

National Medal of Science
recipient in 2000. In 2003, he received the
Crafoord Prize The Crafoord Prize is an annual science prize established in 1980 by Holger Crafoord, a Swedish industrialist, and his wife Anna-Greta Crafoord. The Prize is awarded in partnership between the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Royal Swedish A ...
from the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences ( Swedish: ''Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien'') is one of the royal academies of Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic co ...
"for his discovery of a third domain of life". In 2006, he was made a
foreign member of the Royal Society Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted by the judges of the Royal Society of London to individuals who have made a "substantial contribution to the improvement of natural science, natural knowledge, includi ...
. Many microbial species, such as '' Pyrococcus woesei'', '' Methanobrevibacter woesei'', and ''Conexibacter woesei'', are named in his honor. Microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg of
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Du ...

Stanford University
said "The 1977 paper is one of the most influential in microbiology and arguably, all of biology. It ranks with the works of Watson and and Darwin, providing an evolutionary framework for the incredible diversity of the microbial world". With regard to Woese's work on horizontal gene transfer as a primary evolutionary process, Professor Norman R. Pace of the
University of Colorado at Boulder The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder, CU, or Colorado) is a Public university, public research university in Boulder, Colorado. It is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system, and was founded in 1876, five months be ...

University of Colorado at Boulder
said, "I think Woese has done more for biology
writ large In common law, a writ (Anglo-Saxon ''gewrit'', Latin ''breve'') is a formal written order issued by a body with administrative or judicial jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin ''Wikt:ius#Latin, juris'' 'law' + ''Wikt:dictio, dictio'' 'declara ...
than any biologist in history, including
Darwin Darwin most often refers to: * Charles Darwin (1809–1882), English naturalist and writer, best known as the originator of the theory of biological evolution by natural selection * Darwin, Northern Territory, a capital city in Australia * Darwin ( ...

Darwin
... There's a lot more to learn, and he's been interpreting the emerging story brilliantly".
Mark Buchanan Mark Buchanan (born October 31, 1961 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American physicist and author. He was formerly an editor with the international journal of science ''Nature (journal), Nature'', and the popular science magazine ''New Scientist''. He ha ...

Horizontal and vertical: The evolution of evolution
''
New Scientist ''New Scientist'' is a magazine covering all aspects of science and technology. Based in London, it publishes weekly English-language editions in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. An editorially separate organisation publishe ...
'', January 26, 2010


Selected publications


Books

*


Selected Articles

* * * * * * *


See also

*
Archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) constitute a domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a pa ...

Archaea
*
Bacterial phyla Bacterial phyla constitute the major lineages of the domain ''Bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic m ...
, the major lineages of Bacteria * George E. Fox * * Norman R. Pace *
Otto Kandler Otto Kandler (23 October 1920 in Deggendorf - 29 August 2017 in Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city of Bavaria. With a population of 1,558,395 inhabitants as of 31 July 2020, it is the ...
*
Phylogenetics In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanism ...

Phylogenetics
*
Tree of life (biology) The tree of life or universal tree of life is a metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a ...
* 16S ribosomal RNA * Woeseian revolution * Woese's dogma


References


External links

*
Carl Woese papers
at the University of Illinois, Champaign
The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois

Woese's Homepage, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
November 30, 2017
Carl R. Woese Guestbook, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
November 30, 2017
Excerpts from a documentary on Woese's Tree of Life
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Woese, Carl Carl Woese, 1928 births 2012 deaths American microbiologists Amherst College alumni Deerfield Academy alumni Foreign Members of the Royal Society MacArthur Fellows Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences National Medal of Science laureates People from Syracuse, New York University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign faculty Leeuwenhoek Medal winners Deaths from pancreatic cancer Scientists from New York (state)