Jennifer L. Reed Biography

Illustration of Jennifer L. Reed Jennifer L. Reed Chelsea Mamott

Jennifer L. Reed (1978-2020) was a professor and Harvey D. Spangler Faculty Scholar of Chemical & Biological Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Reed studied microbial metabolism and regulation. Her lab combined computational and experimental approaches to study biological systems, engineer cells, and expanded knowledge of the mechanisms underlying a range of cellular behaviors.

Prior to joining the UW–Madison faculty, Reed spent her entire life in California. She grew up in the northern city of Redding and the San Francisco Bay area. In 1996, she moved 500 hundred miles south to attend the University of California, San Diego.

After completing her undergraduate degree in bioengineering, Reed stayed at UC San Diego for graduate school—in part for the pleasant climate and in part because of bioengineering professor Andrew McCulloch, an influential professor from her college years who advised her to pursue a Ph.D. “You should never talk anyone into doing a Ph.D.,” he told The Scientist in 2013, “but [Reed] clearly had the intellect and everything it would take to become the outstanding scientist she’s turned out to be.”

Reed completed her Ph.D. in 2005 in the lab of UC San Diego bioengineering professor Bernhard Palsson, who had received his own Ph.D. from UW–Madison under the supervision of renowned biochemical engineer Edwin Lightfoot.

“Jennifer is a role model for young women in bioenergy research in pursuing difficult problems and offering simple and effective solutions.”

Federica Brandizzi

Reed became a project lead for GLBRC shortly after arriving in Madison in 2007 and provided valuable leadership and research expertise for the Center on microbial metabolic modeling and engineering. Her research accomplishments and leadership efforts garnered numerous prestigious awards, including a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2011, U.S. Department of Energy Early Career Award in 2012, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2013. She was named a “Scientist to Watch” by The Scientist magazine in 2013 and received Vilas Research Investigator and Vilas Faculty Early Career Investigator awards from UW–Madison in 2014.

The Jennifer L. Reed Bioenergy Science Award was named after her to inspire others to follow in her footsteps of leadership, research excellence, and recognition for highly accomplished early career women scientists.