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October 16, 2023

Pepsi Auditorium, Stocking Hall


3:30 PM - Refreshments

4:00 PM - Presentation

A Career in the Genomics Sciences

Karen Nelson, Ph.D.
Thermo Fisher Scientific, Chief Scientific Officer

The human microbiome refers to all the microorganisms that live in and on the human body. It is now estimated that about 57% of the cells in the human body are microbial cells and that 99% of the genes present in the human body are microbial genes. These microbial species and their associated genetic information have a significant impact on human health and disease.  A prior team led by Dr. Nelson at the J. Craig Venter Institute published the first human metagenomics study in 2006 which went on to be the foundation for several large scale domestic and global sponsored research projects on the human microbiome.  In parallel, many startups formed to investigate the potential of these species, as well as collaborations between pharma, biotech and academia. Today, the human microbiome remains a vast treasure trove of information that we are still trying to understand. In her presentation, Dr. Nelson will review how her work at Cornell in the Animal Sciences Department gave her the critical foundation for a successful career in the non-for-profit sciences and in Industry.

About the speaker

Dr. Karen E. Nelson

Dr. Karen E. Nelson is the Chief Scientific Officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific.  Prior to that she was the President of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), where she held several positions of increasing responsibility over the years, including Director of JCVI's Rockville Campus, and Director of Human Microbiology and Metagenomics in the Department of Human Genomic Medicine at the JCVI. Dr. Nelson received her undergraduate degree from the University of the West Indies, and her Ph.D. from Cornell University. She has authored or co-authored over 230 peer reviewed publications, edited three books, and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Microbial Ecology. She has served on the Editorial Boards of PNAS Nexus, BMC Genomics, GigaScience, and the Central European Journal of Biology. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, an Honorary Professor at the University of the West Indies and a Helmholtz International Fellow. Dr. Nelson is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  Dr. Nelson has led several genomic and metagenomic efforts, including the first human metagenomics study that was published in 2006, and studies of the ecology of the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals.  In her current role she oversees the R&D operations of Thermo Fisher.


Profile photo of Karen Nelson

About the lecture

The Dale E. Bauman Lecture was created in 2017 by the Faculty of the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University to recognize and honor the remarkable career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Professor Emeritus Dale E. Bauman to animal biology, food science, and nutritional biochemistry. Initial endowment has been funded from gifts of individual faculty members to inaugurate this exciting lecture series, which aims to provide insightful and provocative information for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students across the Cornell University community.

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Dr. Xingen Lei


Animal Science

Food Science

Nutritional Sciences

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