Clyde Culbertson Professor of Biology
Professor Brun received his B.S. in Biochemistry and his M.S. in Chemistry from Université de Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick, Canada. He completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Université Laval, Québec, Canada. He received fellowships from the National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Developmental Biology at Stanford University, and held visiting appointment at the Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, in Paris. Brun joined Indiana University in 1993 as Professor in the Department of Biology, and served as Co-Director for the Research Experience for Undergraduates in Molecular Biology and Genetics Program; Director of the Microbiology Node, MetaCyt Initiative; Director of the Molecular Biology and Genetics Graduate Program; and Director of the Microbiology and Molecular Biology Section. Brun was named the Clyde Culberson Professor of Biology in 2007. He serves as Associated Investigator at the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at IU, and is an Editor for Journal of Bacteriology.
A "broad and fearless" and "superb" microbiologist, Brun "has made several seminal and far-reaching discoveries that go well beyond a restricted scientific niche." His general research interest is in the analysis of bacterial growth and development; his early work focused on the formation of an adhesive cellular appendage called a stalk in the bacterial developmental model organism Caulobacter crescentus, and this work has since been extended to other bacteria. He draws from chemistry, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental analyses and evolution and uses novel techniques involving fluorescent probes. "It is this bold and fruitful approach across disciplines together with his broad vision and high quality research that makes Dr. Brun one of the most influential molecular microbiologists today." He has produced "truly novel findings" into the process of cell wall formation that are "breathtakingly beautiful." His "dizzying barrage of sophisticated techniques" are now widely adopted by labs around the world. He has contributed fundamental observations including those on determinants of cell shape, regulation of the bacterial life cycle, changes in modes of growth, and synthesis of the exterior cell wall that have applications in the areas of biomaterials, development of new antibiotics, and engineering of biological systems.
A "brilliant, hard-working and internationally recognized scientist," Brun has been consistently funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995, often holding multiple grants simultaneously. He has also received support from the National Science Foundation, including a prestigious NSF Career Award. His total external funding since joining Indiana University is almost $20 million. He has published over 100 research papers and reviews in the most prominent journals including Nature, Science, Cell, and PLoS Biology. Brun and colleagues' discovery of nature's strongest adhesive produced by the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus was selected as one of the Top 2006 Stories in Science by the online science magazine The Future of Things. He has been invited to give more than 100 lectures at international scientific meetings and leading universities around the world, and is an elected Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology and he was a Fulbright Fellow in 2014-2015. In his time at IU, in addition to his "stellar" instruction of graduate students, he has mentored more than 50 undergraduates in laboratory research, among these five Beckman Scholars and five Goldwater Scholars (this represents 10% of the 48 IU alumni that have received the Goldwater). Brun "is the nucleus and driving force of a group of microbiologist within the Department of Biology that is now regarded as one of the top microbiology programs in the United States."