Winner of the ISME/IWA BioCluster Grand Prize 2024

ISME is delighted to congratulate Amy Pruden from Virginia Tech, USA, as the winner of the ISME/IWA BioCluster Grand Prize 2024, a prestigious prize dedicated to internationally-recognised research of unusual merit.

Amy Pruden is awarded the ISME/IWA BioCluster Grand Prize in recognition of interdisciplinary research of outstanding merit at the interface of microbial ecology and water/wastewater treatment.  Amy Pruden is working at the intersection of drinking water microbial ecology and public health and is one of the global leaders in research using the “One Health” approach where she has worked on the challenge of antimicrobial resistance dissemination and persistence in the environment.

The Award ceremony will held at the 19th International Symposium for Microbial Ecology, where Amy Pruden will present her latest research. 

The ISME/IWA BioCluster created the ISME/IWA BioCluster Award in order to recognise the importance and impact of interdisciplinary research at the interface of microbial ecology, water & wastewater treatment, and engineering sciences.  The award is a collaboration between the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) and the International Water Association (IWA). First set up in 2016, the award is presented every two years. The review committee was composed of the following members: Glen Daigger, Phil Hugenholtz, Per H. Nielsen, Cindy Smith, Michael Wagner, and Kelly Wrighton. Previous awardees can be found here.

Prof. Amy Pruden is the W. Thomas Rice Professor and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech University, USA. She earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and her PhD in Environmental Science, both at the University of Cincinnati.  Her research and teaching focus on bringing a microbial ecological perspective to advancing control of pathogens and antibiotic resistance in the design and management of environmental systems, especially water, wastewater, and recycled water systems. Pruden is widely known for her research on antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) as environmental contaminants and is currently engaged in research aimed at advancing metagenomic approaches for surveillance of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in sewage.  Her original paper, “Antibiotic Resistance Genes as Emerging Contaminants: Studies in Northern Colorado,” published in Environmental Science & Technology, has recently been recognized by the Association for Environmental Engineering and Science Professors as a Landmark Paper (2024), in addition to its original recognition as an Editor’s Choice Best Paper Award in 2006. Since that time, Pruden has published over 200 research articles, covering various topics including: identification and management of critical control points for the spread of ARGs in vegetable production systems, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants in the environment, and microbial ecological controls on proliferation of Legionella in drinking water systems. In the international arena, Pruden served as co-lead author of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report Bracing for Superbugs: Strengthening Environmental Action in the One Health Response to Antimicrobial Resistance and currently serves on the Quadripartite Technical Group for Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance. Pruden has also contributed to a number of USA National Academy of Sciences Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committees, including the Environmental Health Matters Initiative and the One Health Action Collaborative, and co-authored the NASEM consensus report on Management of Legionella in Building Water Systems. Prior to receiving the prestigious ISME-IWA BioCluster Grand Prize, Pruden was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (2007), the Paul L. Busch Award for innovation in water research (2013), the Recipharm International Environmental Award (2021), and the Water Research Foundation Research Innovation Award (2023). Pruden is a Fellow of the International Water Association (IWA) and currently serves as a Senior Editor of the ISME Journal.

Photo by Peter Means