Dr. Madden’s research focuses on understanding microbial communities—in the diverse habitats of food, insects, and built environments—and deciphering the human applications of these microorganisms.
Her work has led to the discovery of a new fungal species, novel antibiotics, patented brewing technology, new DNA based methods for detecting arthropod communities, commercially available products for the food and beverage industry, and a greater understanding of the microbial life around us.
Anne A. Madden, Ph.D., is an award-winning microbiologist, science communicator, strategist, and entrepreneur. Her mission in life is to reveal the utility of the microscopic creatures around us. Her unique method of using a systems-based approach to discover new microbial applications has lead to key discoveries and commercialized products in the fields of biotechnology, agriculture technology, and food technology. These include the discovery of novel species, new antibiotics, and microorganisms from wasps that are now used throughout the world to make award-winning fermented beverages. She is currently co-technology founder and CSO of the food technology company Lachancea LLC, and in the fall of 2019, will be head strategist for Harvard University’s Microbial Science Initiative. Dr. Madden’s research has been featured by various media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS NewsHour, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal. She has published more than a dozen peer-reviewed research papers in diverse fields and has received numerous prestigious fellowships and awards from the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the American Museum of History, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Dr. Madden received her BA from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Biology from Tufts University. She conducted postdoctoral training at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University.
When not conducting research on the microbes around us, she is helping communicate the awe of this microbial world. Dr. Madden has given 5 TED/TEDx talks in three years and has been featured in an award-winning science documentary. She is also founder of the Microbial Hat Project, a project that fuses high fashion with 3D printing technology to create new science communication tools. She recently collaborated with the designer and former TED Fellow Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya to produce a pop-up art and science exhibit that features a colorful and whimsical journey into the microbial communities around us. This exhibit debuts at the Cooper Union Gallery in NYC in October and features a layer of augmented reality technology to provide a portal into the science of these microbes, many of which make our lives better in profound ways.