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Mary E. Lidstrom

Faculty Photo

Professor Emeritus
Chemical Engineering

Professor Emeritus

  • (206) 685-1751
  • GRB G80
  • Lidstrom Lab


Dr. Lidstrom is Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and Microbiology at the University of Washington, Seattle. From 1995 to 2022, she held the Frank Jungers Chair of Engineering in the College of Engineering. She received her B.S. in Microbiology from Oregon State University. After receiving her M.S. and Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Lidstrom conducted work as a Leverhulme postdoctoral Fellow in Microbiology at the University of Sheffield. Dr. Lidstrom has previously held academic appointments in Microbiology at the University of Washington, in the Center for Great Lakes Studies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in Environmental Engineering Science at the California Institute of Technology. She currently is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Bacteriology and FEMS Microbial Ecology. Dr. Lidstrom also served as UW's Vice Provost of Research from 2005 to 2021.


  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1977
  • M.S., University of Wisconsin, 1975
  • B.S., Oregon State University, 1973

Research Statement

Genomic and metabolic manipulations of methylotrophic bacteria

Genomic, physiological and metabolic modeling approaches are used to understand metabolic networks in these bacteria, with the goal of directed manipulation of key metabolic pathways and enzymes for environmentally benign chemical production from methanol.

Physiological heterogeneity of individual cells of M. extorquens AM1 can be used to understand how the behavior of individual cells directs population outcomes during response to stress. 

Biomolecular Engineering, Metabolic Engineering

Bacteria as a group possess an almost unlimited and largely untapped catalytic resource for the chemical industry. Not only can bacteria carry out a complex array of stereospecific transformations, these can normally be accomplished in a way that eliminates production of toxic waste products. The ability to apply modern molecular techniques to a broad group of metabolically diverse bacteria, coupled to the current revolution in genomic sequence availability in biology has provided a new opportunity to exploit the metabolic potential of this large group of organisms. This research program is focused on molecular and metabolic manipulations of a specific group of bacteria, the methylotrophs, with the goal of developing environmentally sound and economically viable alternatives to current chemical production.

Methylotrophs are bacteria that grow on methane or methanol. They contain unique metabolic pathways that allow them to grow on these simple substrates, and they contain a series of versatile oxidative enzymes involved in methylotrophic metabolism. Sophisticated genetic techniques have been developed for studying and manipulating these enzymes and metabolic pathways, and genomic sequences are becoming available for key strains. Therefore, this group of bacteria represent an excellent system for developing biologically based chemical production strategies.

Honors & awards

  • American Society for Microbiology Proctor & Gamble Award for Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2013
  • ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching and Mentoring Award, 2005
  • NSF Faculty Award for Women, 1991
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2005
  • American Academy of Microbiology, 1992
  • National Academy of Sciences, 2013