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Alma Mater honors Birnbaum

By Eddy Ball
November 2010

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D.
In May, Birnbaum's undergraduate alma mater awarded her an honorary doctorate, during commencement at the University of Rochester. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will honor NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. (, with the 2010 College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) Alumni Achievement Award Oct. 22-23. The ceremony will take place during homecoming ( Exit NIEHS activities, as Illinois celebrates its 100th anniversary with LAS alumni and friends.

The LAS ( Exit NIEHS Alumni Achievement Award is given to the alumnus or alumna who, by outstanding achievement, has demonstrated the values derived from a liberal arts and sciences education. The award recognizes outstanding alumni for their professional achievement, creative achievement, worthy cumulative performance through the years, or recent acknowledgement by community or professional peers.

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Birnbaum joins a select group of distinguished graduates that includes eight Nobel Laureates and six Pulitzer Prize winners, out of a total of approximately 145,000 alumni. As a graduate student at the University of Illinois, Birnbaum earned an M.S. in microbiology, and completed her Ph.D. in microbiology with a minor in biochemistry, successfully defending her thesis, "Localization, Enrichment, and in vitro Transcription of Ribosomal RNA Genes in Escherichia coli," in 1972.

In addition to the LAS Alumni Awards reception and dinner Oct. 22, Birnbaum was recognized at the LAS homecoming celebration the morning of Oct. 23. She was also invited to attend the annual homecoming game pitting the Illinois Fighting Illini against the Indiana University Hoosiers.

Homecoming at Illinois is the longest such continuously running collegiate event, beginning in 1910 and marking its 100th anniversary in 2010. The occasion has taken place in each of those 100 years, with the exception of 1918 when the event was canceled because of World War I.

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