Thursday, October 24, 2013

RIP Monica Riley of MBL, one of the true greats of E. coli biology, genetics & genomics

Just got this from Guy Plunkett III
 The E. coli annotation community lost a founding member when Monica Riley died from heart failure on October 11, 2013 in Richmond, CA. She was 87 years old. Monica will be missed by very many of us. There has not been any announcement that I can find, but I have some information from Gretta Serres at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, who is preparing an obituary for Microbe (the ASM newsletter). In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alumnae Association of Smith College. Nothing specific has been set up yet, but donations can be made in memory of Monica Riley, class of 1947, at <>.
Very sad.  Monica was an incredible woman.  I interacted with her on and off for the last twenty or so years and she played prominent roles much of my earlier work.  Among her many achievements she was central to the annotation of the E. coli genome and in keeping track of all the studies that had been done on various E. coli genes.  See for example  Perhaps most important, she was just a wonderful wonderful person.  I will miss her.


  1. I only met Monica once -- she was an instructor at the Woods Hole Molecular Evolution course in 1992 -- but I'm amazed that she continued to be scientifically active for almost two decades after that despite being of normal retirement age even then.

    1. Just heard from the EcoCyc mailing list that MBL has a nice writeup about Monica: Many interesting facts -- for example, as a graduate student in the 1950s, she collaborated with Monod & Jacob!

  2. Thanks to Jonathan for putting up this post and for your warm words. I did my postdoc with Monica at MBL. Monica was a great mentor and very caring person. I am very grateful to her. FYI, here is some info regarding a Memorial Service planned for Monica which I just got from her family.

    "Please join Monica Riley's friends at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (located in Kensington!) for a Memorial Service celebrating the life her life on Sunday November 17, 2013 at 1PM The church is located at 1 Lawson Rd in Kensington, CA 94707. For directions see or call 510-525-0302. In Lieu of flowers please send donations to the Alumnae Association of Smith College:"


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