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Penny Chisholm


Woods Hole




United States of America

Sallie "Penny" Chisholm has been fascinated with the sciences for a very long time. She studied Biology and Chemistry as an undergraduate at Skidmore College and then went on to receive her doctorate in Biology at S.U.N.Y. Albany. From there she did post-doctoral work at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she became interested in Oceanography.

Penny is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) where she has been teaching Biology and Environmental Science for over thirty years. She and her students do research on phytoplankton-tiny photosynthetic microbes that feed all life in the oceans and regulate the global cycles of carbon and oxygen.With a professional focus in Phytoplankton Ecology and Ecological Genomics, Penny has received numerous honors, including the Rosenstiel Award in Ocean Sciences and the Huntsman Award for Excellence in Marine Science. She has been the recipient of several endowed chairs and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the National Academy of Sciences.

Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm have been good friends for quite some time, and had been talking about writing a book together for just about as long when they came to the original idea for Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life. Penny convinced Molly that photosynthesis is the most important, invisible, and arguably underappreciated process on Earth. Apparently, educators have done studies asking people where the mass of trees comes from, and most people don't know that it comes from the carbon in our air. Molly and Penny wondered how it was possible that we all just take such an extraordinary process for granted. As a potential solution, they created Living Sunlight in the hopes that it will educate people, both young and old, about the wondrous nature of photosynthesis and its crucial importance to our world.

Penny has written over 200 articles about her research. Some of the most prestigious journals that have published her work include Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. This is her first book.

When Penny is not teaching, researching, and writing, she enjoys escaping to her family's cottage in Woods Hole, MA or their cabin in Marquette, MI, where she grew up. In her spare time she skis, knits, and plays with her cat, Gus. She plans to continue her research and teaching, and eagerly looks forward to her next children's book with Molly Bang.

Susan Cheyney

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