The first Rutgers graduate to win the Nobel Prize, Selman A. Waksman was a major contributor to the advancement of modern medicine, isolating a total of 22 antibiotics in his laboratory. Best known is Streptomycin, which revolutionized the treatment of tuberculosis and closed many sanitariums, and a companion drug, Neomycin, active against bacteria and mycobacteria. Waksman was born near Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine); immigrated to the United States in 1910; and in 1911, enrolled at Rutgers, where he spent most of his career. In 1918, he began work as a microbiologist at the Rutgers-based New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. He became a professor in 1925 and head of the microbiology department in 1940. He used royalties received from the manufacturers of Streptomycin and Neomycin to found the Institute of Microbiology (which now bears his name) and became its director. He published more than 400 papers and 18 books and offered advice on the use of enzymes for soil fertilization and mushroom growing. Waksman also organized the Division of Marine Bacteriology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1931 and served as a trustee until his death in 1973.
Selman A. Waksman
Microbiologist, Nobel Prize Winner
Rutgers College 1915
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of