Closeup of John Peters
John Peters

Washington State University professor John Peters co-authored a paper that has won a prestigious Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The paper, Universal free-energy landscape produces efficient and reversible electron bifurcation, received the prize in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences class.

The PNAS Editorial Board selected six papers published in 2020 to receive the Cozzarelli Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Papers were chosen from the more than 3,600 research articles that appeared in the journal last year and represent the six broadly defined classes under which the NAS is organized.

The paper defines the energy landscape of electron bifurcation, a method of energy conservation in living cells. Peters, the director of WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, organized a large team to study this electron bifurcation phenomenon that was funded by the Department of Energy through the Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis Energy Frontier Research Center.

The basis for the paper was founded in experimental work that Peters and co-author Cara Lubner, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, spearheaded. They worked with the other co-authors from Duke University, who focused on the theoretical aspects of the bifurcation process.

The annual Cozzarelli Prize acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality. The award was established in 2005 as the Paper of the Year Prize and was renamed in 2007 to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli. Peters and the other 2020 awardees will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony during the NAS Annual Meeting on April 25.

This year’s recipients were chosen from a large pool of more than 400 nominations. They represent the top scientific research published in PNAS in 2020.