Iliana Baums, associate professor of biology at Penn State, has been awarded a 12-month Humboldt Research Fellowship for experienced researchers by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Humboldt Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by the Federal Republic of Germany that promotes international research cooperation. Recipients receive support for extended research at a German research institution of their choice. The fellowship is awarded in a worldwide competition to highly qualified scholars who are not living in Germany. Baums has elected to conduct her research at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen. In Bremen, she plans to study the role of symbiotic bacteria in how the deep-sea corals they inhabit respond to oil exposure from human activity and natural sources.
Baums studies the molecular ecology and evolution of corals and their symbiotic relationship with algae and bacteria. She uses molecular tools, such as DNA sequence comparison, to understand the influence of biogeography, population structure, and mating patterns on the survival and evolution of corals and associated marine organisms in response to climate change.
In 2012, Baums was part of a team honored with the Excellence in Partnership award from the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. In 2004, she received the Smith Prize, which is awarded for the most original piece of research at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami, and an academic merit award from the University of Miami graduate school, which recognizes academic excellence.
Baums has co-authored over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has delivered presentations on her research around the world, including addressing the International Symposium of Coral Husbandry in the Netherlands and the annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute meeting in Belize. She is a member of the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, the International Society for Reef Studies, the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Ecological Society of America, and Sigma Xi: the Scientific Research Society. Baums is on the scientific advisory board of SECORE, the Sexual Coral Reproduction Foundation, a conservation initiative based in Wiesbaden, Germany. She also serves on the editorial boards of the journals Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers in Marine Science, and Coral Reefs.
Prior to joining Penn State in August 2006, Baums spent a year as an assistant researcher at the University of Hawaii. Prior to that, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2005. She earned her doctoral degree at the University of Miami in 2003 and her diplom degree in marine biology, with minors in ecology and cell and molecular biology/genetics, at the University of Bremen in Germany in 2000. She received her vordiplom degree in biology from the University of Tuebingen in Germany in 1996.