Peg Riley

Position: Professor

Lab Member Since: 1991

Dr. Margaret (Peg) Riley, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1991 and joined the faculty at Yale University, where she was granted tenure and remained for 15 years while developing an internationally renowned research program in antimicrobial drug discovery. She has published over 100 articles and edited four books in her research area. Her early studies in microbial ecology and the evolution of antibiotic resistance suggested an alternative to the current paradigm of antibiotic drug discovery, one that recognizes the power of targeted approaches to therapeutic intervention, which result in lower levels of antibiotic resistance and reduced collateral damage to the healthy human microbiome.

In 2009 Dr. Riley co-founded a biopharmaceutical company, Bacteriotix, whose mission is to provide proof of concept for this new drug development paradigm, with a focus on therapeutic interventions for catheter acquired urinary tract infections. More recently, Dr. Rliey and her students created a new venture, Organicin Scientific, whose mission is to provide proof of concept for bacteriocin-based biopesticides for use in the prevention and/or treatment of bacterial disease in plants. She also serves as a consultant for several biopharmacuetical commpanies.

In 2008 Dr. Riley founded and served as the first president of the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase levels of civic science literacy. In 2009, she co-founded the Institute for Drug Resistance, whose mission is to facilitate novel, multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the challenge of drug resistance and created a new Gordon Research Conference on Drug Resistance. More recently, Dr. Riley created the NSF-funded STEM Ambassadors Program whose mission is to increase retention rates in college students engaged in STEM studies. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Dr. Riley is also fully committed to engaging the public in science. She has appeared on two of Bill Nye's shows (The Eyes of Nye; Bill Nye Saves the World) and his new podcast series (Science Rules), as well as numerous other webinars, podcasts and interview platforms.

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