Norman R. Pace, Jr.


Honorary Degree (2018)
Doctor of Science
IU Graduate Commencement
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Michael A. McRobbie
MacArthur Fellow (2001)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Biology
National Academy of Sciences (1991)
National Academy of Sciences


A member of the Indiana University faculty from 1984 to 1996, during which time he rose to the rank of distinguished professor, Pace revolutionized microbial ecology and allowed the "unseen 99 percent," as Palmer calls it, to be revealed. Pace's ribosomal RNA gene sequencing enabled scientists to study, for the first time, the 99 percent of microbes that were culture resistant and previously inaccessible for research.

Pace's research is recognized at all levels for its contributions to science and medicine, and it has been disseminated widely. Pace has identified hundreds of thousands of previously unknown microbial species, expanding the tree of life as previously known. He has been showered with honors and recognitions since he began researching in the late 1980s, including fellowships in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Academy of Arts and Sciences; membership in the National Academy of Sciences; being awarded the Selman A. Waksman Award for Excellence in Microbiology and a McArthur "Genius" award; and receiving the 2017 Massry Prize in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences and the advancement of health." Pace has received lifetime achievement awards from three international scientific societies representing different fields: the American Society for Microbiology, the International Society for Microbial Ecology, and the RNA Society.

Though now officially retired from the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program at the University of Colorado Boulder and spending much of his time as an avid caver, Pace remains one of the foremost experts on RNA catalysis and microbiomes.